He has been a teacher of Punjabi in Government Brijjindra College, Faridkot (Punjab). He started his literary carrier as a short story writer in 1962 with his collection Saggi phul and then Chan da boota (1964). His subsequent short story collections are Opra admi (1965) and Kulta te admi (1972). But he made his real mark by publishing his maiden novel Marhi da diva (1964). This book was hailed by the Punjabi literary world as one of the best novel written in a regional (Malwai) dialect and got him a literary award from the Language Department, Patiala (Punjab).
His subsequent novels are: Anhoe (1966), Kuwela (1968), Raite de ik muthi (1969), Adh chanani raat (1972) which won the Sahitya Akademi award in 1975, Authen uggan (1974) and Anhe ghore da dam (1976). In addition to this, he has produced some children's literature in his books Bakalam khud, Tuk khoh lai kawan and Likhtam Baba Khema. He has also translated a number of books from other languages into Punjabi. Gurdial Singh is more successful when he delineates the rural characters of his native region-Malwa. He has a kind heart and deep sympathy for the poor and the down-trodeen and presents their economic and social struggle with sentiments and understanding.
His regionalism is strength as well as weakness for him. It has earned him name and fame and the title of the best regional Punjabi novelist, but this also stood in his way by limiting his appeal to a particular section of the Punjabi society. Marhi Da Diva narrates the tragedy that overtakes the menial helpers of the farmers in the Punjab villages of the Malwa region, The story of the novel revolves around the farmer Dharam Singh, his wife Dhanno, his son Bhanta, their menial Jagsir, his father Thola and his mother Nandi, the barber Nikka and his wife Bhani and the waterman Raunki.
1. Joginder Singh, Adhunik Punjabi Sahit di Ruparekha.
2. Kaur, B., Adhunika Punjabi Kavi: Sahaj Dristi.
3. Sekhon, S.S. and K.S. Duggal, A History of Punjabi Literature, Delhi, 1992.