In Search of Heer
Nominated | Book Awards 2020 | Creative Writing in English (Fiction & Poetry)
In Search of Heer
In the village of Takht Hazara, the musically gifted Deedho Ranjha struggles against family and society. He rejects the pursuit of wealth and power as the measure of a man’s worth. In distant Jhang, the spirited Heer Syal is an accomplished warrior who fearlessly challenges the norms of her community. Heer and Ranjha are destined to meet and fall in love—the former chastised for her ‘manly’ pursuits and the latter ridiculed for his lack thereof.
Told from multiple perspectives, set against the lush riverbanks and rugged countryside of West Punjab, this is a wise, passionate and lyrical retelling of one of the subcontinent’s most beloved epics. A rich cast of characters—Kaido Langra, Jhang’s seemingly pious conscience-keeper; Malki, the mother of a daughter she cannot understand; Seida Khera, Heer’s hapless ﬁancé; a silent, watchful crow; a ﬂock of excitable pigeons who bear witness and a philosophical goat—all play their part in bringing this stirring story to life.
Manjul Bajaj worked in the field of environment and rural development before she became a writer. She is the author of Come, Before Evening Falls(shortlisted for the Hindu Literary Prize in 2010) and Another Man’s Wife (shortlisted for the Hindu Literary Prize in 2013). She has also written two books for children—Elbie’s Quest and Nargisa’s Adventures.
Author Manjul Bajaj’s 2019 novel ‘In Search of Heer’ is one such modern retelling of the 600-year-old legendary tragic love story of Heer and Ranjha from Punjab. The story has a rich cast of characters and is told through various perspectives.
– The Times of India
This beautifully narrated book is a shining example of how an author’s imagination can make a reader look at an age-old and seemingly inviolable rendition in a new way.
– Huffington Post
Very lyrical and evocative writing! It’s a known story mixing fact and fiction, giving an interesting third option of love. This novel has achieved a big feat by sustaining our interest in a story that is already placed in the collective memory of people. The way the author involves the non-human world makes this book a fascinating read. Bajaj has managed to give us a story of hope in these bleak times.
– The JCB Prize for Literature
A brilliant retelling with a compelling narrative and strong characters, Heer and Ranjha’s stories continues to raise some valid questions about love and honour in today’s times. Sadly, their dream of a kinder, freer and fairer world for everyone, seems like a dream even today.