Zahid Hassan, research scholar at the Gurmani Centre for Languages and Literature, has won the Syed Waris Shah Award worth PKR 200,000, which is awarded by the Pakistan Academy of Letters to the best Punjabi literary fiction of the year. The book is also the winner of the Dhahan Prize for Punjabi Literature, established by the Canada India Education Society in partnership with the Department of Asian Studies in the Faculty of Arts at University of British Columbia.
Since 1985, Zahid Hassan has worked with various newspapers, periodicals and publishing houses in Lahore including Punjabi Adabi Board. In addition he has worked with the Democratic Commission for Human Development. He has served as editor of Punjabi and Urdu magazines like, “Punjabi Adab’, ‘Adab-e lateef’, and ‘Kahani Ghar’.
He has published twelve books of fiction, poetry, research and literary criticism in Punjabi which include four novels, ‘Ishaq lataare Aadmi’, ‘Ghalichaa Unnan Wali’, ‘Qissa Aashiqaan’, Tassi Dharti’, and a short story collection, ‘Panjah Varhian di Udaasi’. He is a recipient of numerous literary awards which include the prestigious Pakistan Academy of Letters ‘Waris Shah Award’ and ‘Masood Khaddarposh Award’, among others.
‘Tassi Dharti’ (Thirsty Land) is a novel penned by Zahid Hassan. Published in Farsi script, the story deals with the land and people of the geographical region of the undivided Punjab, known as Bar. It tries to recapture the changing historical and socio-cultural reality of this region over the last two hundred years.
Tassi Dharti is a gripping representation of existential concerns of the valiant people of this region and their hardy struggles in the context of evolving social and political environment during the colonial period and beyond. As a regional novel, it employs the language and idiom of the regional dialect and focuses on the folk tradition and cultural practices of the people. Throughout the narrative the secular fabric of pre-partition Punjab emerges wonderfully.
It is a valuable literary work relating to a rather under-represented cultural region of Punjab.