Geetanjali Shree’s ‘Tomb of Sand’ becomes 1st Hindi novel to win International Booker Prize

Author Geetanjali Shree’s translated Hindi novel, ‘Tomb of Sand’, has become the first book written in an Indian language to be awarded the prestigious 2022 International Booker Prize. Originally published in Hndi as Ret Samadhi, the book is translated into English by Daisy Rockwell.

“I never dreamt of the Booker, I never thought I could. What a huge recognition, I’m amazed, delighted, honoured and humbled,” said Geetanjali Shree, in her acceptance speech.

“There is a melancholy satisfaction in the award going to it. ‘Ret Samadhi/Tomb of Sand’ is an elegy for the world we inhabit, a lasting energy that retains hope in the face of impending doom. The Booker will surely take it to many more people than it would have reached otherwise, that should do the book no harm,” she said.

‘Tomb of Sand’ was among 13 long listed novels, which were translated to English from 11 languages and originate from 12 countries across four continents. Geetanjali will be awarded GBP 50,000, which will be split evenly between the author and translator.

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The award-winning book narrates the story of an 80-year-old woman who experiences a deep depression after the death of her husband. Eventually, she overcomes her depression and decides to visit Pakistan to finally confront the past that she left behind during the Partition.

“The constantly shifting perspectives and timeframes of Geetanjali Shree’s inventive, energetic Tomb of Sand’ lead us into every cranny of an 80-year-old woman’s life and surprising past, the judges said of the Hindi novel, when the Booker Prize long list was announced. “Daisy Rockwell’s spirited translation rises admirably to the complexity of the text, which is full of word play and verve. A loud and irresistible novel.”

Born in UP’s Mainpuri and presently based in New Delhi, Geetanjali has authored three novels and several collections of short stories, many of which have been translated into English, French, German, Serbian, and Korean.

Reacting to the nomination in the longlist, Shree said, “Writing is its own reward. But getting recognition as special as from Booker is a wonderful bonus. The fact that there is much that is dismal all round in the world today, adds to the value of positive vibes in fields like literature. Stands out in my heart as hope…”

(With PTI inputs)

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