Alok Bhalla honored for achievements in literature

It’s our great pleasure to share that MĀNOA corresponding editor Alok Bhalla is the recipient of the 2023 SAARC Literature Award, given by the Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature. He was honored for enriching “understanding of peace, freedom, and mutual respect” and emphasizing the importance of the “ethical responsibility to bear witness in difficult times.”

Established in 1987, the Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature is an NGO comprising India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, and Afghanistan. Its mission is to nurture and strengthen connectivity through literary and cultural interactions among the SAARC members, to foster peace and harmony in the region.

Alok’s contributions to MĀNOA are myriad. For years, he has been a trusted literary counselor and friend. We have not only published his translations and essays but have also relied on his judgement and wisdom in many literary matters. As a translator and/or editor, he was involved in the following volumes:

  • In the Silence: International Fiction, Poetry, Essays, and Performance (winter 2022)
  • Tyranny Lessons: International Prose, Poetry, and Performance (summer 2020)
  • Displaced Lives: Fiction, Poetry, Memoirs, and Plays from Four Continents (winter 2019)
  • Story Is a Vagabond: Fiction, Essays, and Drama by Intizar Husain (summer 2015)
  • Andha Yug: The Age of Darkness (summer 2010)
  • Crossing Over: Partition Literature from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh (summer 2007)

In June 2010, Alok participated in a staging of Andha Yug at Orvis Auditorium on the University of Hawaiʻi campus and gave a presentation, “Borders of Sorrow: Violence and Politics of Religious Identities in Modern Indo-Pakistani Fiction,” sponsored by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

He was also instrumental in organizing MĀNOA’s tribute to Pakistani writer Intizar Husain at the 2017 annual conference of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, held that year in Washington, D.C. Though Husain wrote primarily in Urdu, he was mourned by readers all over the world when he passed away in February 2016. The focus of the tribute was Story Is a Vagabond—translated by Alok, Asif Farrukhi, and Nishat Zaidi—which presented some of Husain’s best-known works.

Biography from Poiesis Society

Alok Bhalla, a retired professor of English, got his M.A from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and Ph.D from Kent State University, USA. He has been a Professor/Fellow at the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Jamia Millia Islamia and Ambedkar University, Delhi, Institutes of Advance Study at Nantes (France), Bellagio (Italy), Shimla, and Gandhiji’s Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmadabad. A critic, translator and poet he has published extensively. His books include Stories About the Partition of India (4 volumes), Partition Dialogues, Ramakatha: Narrative, Performance, and Pictorial Traditions (co-edited), Politics of Atrocity and Lust (on the Vampire Tale), Shades of the Preternatural (on the Gothic Novel), The Life and Times of Saadat Hassan Manto, etc. His recent translations include Dharamvir Bharati’s Andha Yug, Nirmal Verma’s Dark Dispatches, Intizar Husain’s Story Is a Vagabond (co-edited), A Chronicle of the Peacocks, and plays by Bhisham Sahni, Krishna Baldev Vaid, etc. His articles have appeared in Journal of Peasant Studies, Comparative Literature Studies, Manoa, Annual of Urdu Studies, etc. His collection of poems for children is entitled Wild Verses of Wit and Whimsy (illustrated by Manjula Padmanabhan). He was elected as the Chairperson of the English Board of the Sahitya Akademi.

Additional links:

  • “Ahimsa in the City of the Mind,” essay from Andha Yug.
  • Introduction, published in the online journal The Beacon, to a book on The Gita comprised of Mewari miniature paintings.
  • Personal reflection on Alok’s days at St. Stephen’s College that appeared in the online journal Auteur Limits.