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Jaspreet Singh

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Jaspreet Singh was grew up in India and Kashmir. He moved to Montreal in 1990 where he completed both an M.Eng. (1993) and a Ph.D (1998) in chemical engineering at McGill University.  Jaspreet Singh lived in Toronto prior to moving to Calgary.

Singh’s autobiographical essay “My Mother, My Translator” published online by GRANTA is an exceptional prose work that on the surface describes her translation of Seventeen Tomatoes into the Punjabi language, and his own efforts to translate her MSS of memorial writing into English. The essay is part of Singh’s memoir My Mother, My Translator.

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Fiction

Chef

Montreal: Véhicule Press, 2008.
Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2010.
PS8637.I53 C44 2010

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Chef Kirpal, seriously ill, returns to Kashmir after a gap of fourteen years to cook his last meal at the Governor’s residence. He embarks on a long train and bus journey from Delhi to Kashmir during which he looks back over his days of apprenticeship and the life of ordinary soldiers on the Siachen glacier, occupation of Kashmir by India and Pakistan, prejudice against the Muslims, and his relationship with women from both sides of the border. But his reasons for visiting Kashmir one last time extend further than the strong desire to cook a wedding meal for the General’s daughter. He would like to excavate a part of his past that has kept him from moving forward.

Awards and Honours

2009 Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction (Writers’ Guild of Alberta) (Winner)
2009 Commonwealth Book Prize (Shortlisted)
2008 Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction (Quebec Writers’ Federation) (Nominated)

Fiction

Face: A Novel of the Anthropocene

Victoria, BC: TouchWood Editions, 2022.
Available to members of the university community as an e-book

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Jaspreet Singh’s much anticipated third novel traces a past crime that suddenly becomes confrontable on another continent. Lila, a brilliant Indian-born science journalist, and Lucia, an aspiring European-born writer, meet at a creative writing workshop in Calgary. Both try to use fiction to work through real-life trauma, but their entangled paths may reach all the way back to Lila’s time as a geology student in the foothills of the Himalayas.

How best to tell Lila’s story and follow the links between a fossil fraud in India, an ice core archive in Canada, the Burgess Shale quarry, and a climate change laboratory in Germany? As their detective work unfolds, the two women encounter some of today’s most urgent and fascinating science, as well as the many shapes of internal criticism in the sciences. They also come face to face with ecological grief and human-non-human entanglements. With this playful and deeply serious genre-blurring work, Singh gives a new direction to the novel in the Anthropocene.

Fiction

Helium: A Novel

London ; New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2013.
PS8637 .I53 H45 2013

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

On November 1st 1984, a day after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination, a nineteen-year-old student travels back from a class trip to the northern regions of India with Professor Singh, his mentor, an expert on chemical elements and the man who introduced him to Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table. As the group disembark at Delhi station a mob surrounds the professor, throws a tyre over him, douses him in petrol and sets him alight.

Fusing documentary and fictional impulses, Helium deals with one of the most shocking moments in the history of the Indian nation: the massacre of the Sikh citizens organised, incited and enabled by the government. Jaspreet Singh has crafted an affecting and important story of memory, collective silences and personal trauma.

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Fiction (Short stories)

Seventeen Tomatoes: Tales from Kashmir

Montreal: Véhicule Press, 2004.
PS8637 .I53 S48 2004

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Seventeen Tomatoes is a series of linked stories which revolve around two Sikh boys coming of age in an Indian army camp in Kashmir. Each story takes a minor character from the previous tale and builds a new tale, weaving a collective portrait of the border community. In addition to the boys, Adi (a student of gardens) and Arjun (a budding chemist), we meet a boatman’s daughter, a captured Pakistani officer, a celebrity cricket umppire and Parachute Aunty.

Awards and Honours

2004 Mcauslan First Book Prize (Quebec Writers’ Federation) (Winner)

Poetry

November: Poems

Calgary: Bayeux Arts, 2017.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

A diverse collection of poems, some reflecting the poet’s scientific training, others reflecting his political inclinations, all infused with a deep sense of humanity.

Anthology (Short stories)

Coming Attractions 04

Edited by Mark Anthony Jarman.
Ottawa: Oberon Press, 2004.

Includes three stories by Singh: Spellbound, A Little Bit of Bar-rough, and, You Must Be.

Anthology

Closer to Home: The Author and the Author Portrait

TR681 .A85 B97 2008

Byrnes, Terence. “Jaspreet Singh in His Apartment.” In Byrnes, Terence. Closer to Home: The Author and the Author Portrait. Montréal: Véhicule Press, 2008, 46-47.

Non-fiction (Memoir)

My Mother, My Translator: A Memoir

Montreal: Véhicule Press, 2021.
PS8637.I53 Z46 2021

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

In 2008, Jaspreet Singh made a pact with his mother. He would gladly give her the go-ahead to publish her significantly altered translation of a story from his collection, Seventeen Tomatoes, if she promised to write her memoirs. After she died in 2012, he decided to take up the memoir she had started. My Mother, My Translator is a deeply personal exploration of a complex relationship. It is a family history, a work of mourning, a meditation on storytelling and silences, and a reckoning with trauma—the inherited trauma of the 1947 Partition of India and the direct trauma of the November 1984 anti-Sikh violence Singh experienced as a teenager.

Tracing the men and especially the women of his family from the 1918 pandemic through the calamitous events of Partition, My Mother, My Translator takes us through Singh’s childhood in Kashmir and with his grandparents in Indian Punjab to his arrival in Canada in 1990 to study the sciences, up to the closing moments of 2020, as he tries to locate new forms of stories for living in a present marked by COVID-19 and climate crisis.

Awards and Honours

2022 W.O. Mitchell Book Prize (City of Calgary)(Winner)

Links

Jaspreet Singh personal website

Publisher Véhicule Press

Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing