Delhi-based author Geetanjali Shree’s Hindi novel ‘Tomb of Sand’ has become the first book in any Indian language to win the prestigious International Booker Prize. ‘Tomb of Sand’, originally ‘Ret Samadhi’ was translated by Daisy Rockwell. The novel is based on boundary-crossing 80-year-old heroine.
“I never dreamt of the Booker, I never thought I could. What a huge recognition, I’m amazed, delighted, honored and humbled,” said Shree, in her acceptance speech. It is the first book in any Indian language to win the high-profile award, which recognizes fiction from around the world that The 50,000-pound ($63,000) prize money will be split between Shree and Rockwell.
“I never dreamt of the Booker, I never thought I could. What a huge recognition, I’m amazed, delighted, honored and humbled, “said Shree, in her acceptance speech from her.
“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.
The book’s 80-year-old protagonist, Ma, to her family’s dismay, insists on traveling to Pakistan, simultaneously confronting the unresolved trauma of her teenage experiences of Partition, and re-evaluating what it means to be a mother, a daughter, a woman, a feminist.
The author of three novels and several story collections, 64-year-old Shree has translated her works into English, French, German, Serbian, and Korean.
Originally published in Hindi in 2018, ‘Tomb of Sand’ is the first of her books to be published in the UK in English by Tilted Axis Press in August 2021.
Shree’s novel was chosen from a shortlist of six books, the others being: ‘Cursed Bunny’ by Bora Chung, translated by Anton Hur from Korean; ‘A New Name: Septology VI-VII’ by Jon Fosse, translated by Damion Searls from Norwegian; ‘Heaven’ by Mieko Kawakami, translated by Samuel Bett and David Boyd from Japanese; ‘Elena Knows’ by Claudia Piñeiro, translated by Frances Riddle from Spanish; and ‘The Books of Jacob’ by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft from Polish.
This year the judges considered 135 books and for the first time in 2022, all shortlisted authors and translators will each receive GBP 2,500, increased from GBP 1,000 in previous years – bringing the total value of the prize to GBP 80,000.
Complementing the Booker Prize for Fiction, the international prize is awarded every year for a single book that is translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland.