New Delhi: Will it be Munshi Premchand or Jaishankar Prasad, Mahadevi Verma or Amrita Pritam – whose work will be voted the best Hindi novel of all times?
In the first such exercise of its kind, literary figures, academicians and readers are participating in an opinion poll to prepare a list of 100 best Hindi novels of all time.
The poll, the results of which are expected to be ready in three months, also aims at preparing a list of 100 best English novels translated into Hindi and another of 100 best novels in Indian regional languages that have been translated to the national language.
Around 600 letters are being sent out by the Central Secretariat Library (CSL), which is conducting the poll, to a cross-section of people interested in Hindi literature to prepare the lists.
"A few months ago, a list of the best English novels of all time had appeared, which prompted us to think why we don't carry out a similar rating for Hindi novels," S C Bhalla, Director of CSL, told PTI.
He said the idea was mooted in a meeting of the book selection committee of the library, where it was given a whole-hearted go-ahead.
The list of voters was prepared with assistance from the Sahitya Akademi, India International Centre and the library's own list of users.
The selection will act as "essential lists" for the Hindi section of any library in the country, Bhalla said.
"The lists will form the basis for any public library to prepare their collection of Hindi novels or add to it," he said.
There is also the hope that some Hindi novels that are no longer in publication will get revived in the process.
"In our library, we have microfilms of around 8,000-9,000 books that are no longer published. Once any of these books appears in the three lists, it has a chance to get revived and published again," Bhalla said.
The lists are expected to be announced early next year at a function where writers figuring in the list will be honoured.
"We will publish the lists in newspapers and these will be sent to libraries across the country," Bhalla said.