Kulwant Singh Virk
a pioneer of contemporary literature
Mr. Kulwant Singh Virk is a pioneer of contemporary literature. He wrote mostly in Punjabi but extensively in English as well. His short stories were translated into several other languages including Russian by Leo Tolstoy’s granddaughter Natasha Tolstoy and in Japanese by Dr Tomio Mizokami, Professor of Indian Languages at the Osaka University. He was born on May 20, 1921 in village Phullarwan in district Sheikhupura of Punjab province in India. His father Asa Singh was a landlord and mother Ishar Kaur was a home maker. After receiving his two M.A. degrees, he graduated from law school but never practiced. He married a daughter of prominent orthopedic surgeon Dr. Karam Singh Grewal in 1949.
Mr. Virk served as a second lieutenant with the British Army during the Second World War. He joined the Punjab civil services as a public relations officer in 1949. During his tenure with the civil service he also edited two magazines ‘Advance’ and ‘Jagriti’. He later joined the Indian government’s federal civil service and worked in the ministry of information and broadcasting. Later, he was appointed as the press secretary to the premier of Punjab province. Prior to and after his tenure as press secretary, he was the joint director of communications for the Punjab Agricultural University.
His writings won several awards. In 1958 he won his first award for his short story compilation titled ‘Dudh Da Chappar’ (A Pond of Milk). He won the Indian National Sahitya Academy Award in 1968 for his short story compilation “Nave Lok’ (New folks). It was presented to him by then Indian president Dr. Zakir Hussain. He was also recognized by the Literary Forum of Canada in 1984 and acclaimed for his contribution to literature by the Punjab Sahitya Academy in 1986.
After his retirement he temporarily moved to Canada but returned to his beloved Punjab after a few months. He suffered a devastating stroke in 1987. He traveled back to Canada to receive medical care. His spirit left his body on December 24, 1987 in Toronto, Canada. Mr. Virk will always remain a legend for creating an innovative approach towards composing short stories.