Delhi-based writer Geetanjali Shree wins International Booker Prize for Hindi novel ‘Tomb of Sand’ : The Tribune India
London, May 27
Geetanjali Shree has become the first Indian author to win the prestigious International Booker Prize for her ‘utterly original’ Hindi novel ‘Tomb of Sand’, a family saga set in northern India that tells the story of an 80-year-old woman who travels to Pakistan to confront the unresolved trauma of her teenage experiences of Partition and reassess what it means to be a mother, daughter, woman and feminist.
At a ceremony in London on Thursday, the 64-year-old New Delhi-based writer said she was ‘completely overwhelmed’ by ‘love at first sight’ as she accepted her £50,000 prize and shared it with the English translator of the book. Margaret Rockwell. The price is shared between the author and the translator equally.
‘Tomb of Sand’, originally ‘Ret Samadhi’, is set in northern India and follows an 80-year-old woman in a tale Judges Booker calls a ‘joyful cacophony’ and a ‘compelling romance’ .
“I never dreamed of the Booker, I never thought I could. What a huge recognition, I’m amazed, thrilled, honored and humbled,” Shree said in her acceptance speech.
“There is a melancholic satisfaction in the award given to him. ‘Ret Samadhi/Tomb of Sand’ is an elegy for the world we inhabit, an enduring energy that keeps hope alive in the face of impending doom. The Booker the will surely reach many more people than it otherwise would have reached, that shouldn’t hurt the book,” she said.
Reflecting on becoming the first Hindi work of fiction to make the Booker Cut, the author said he felt good to be the medium for it to happen.
“But behind me and this book lies a rich and thriving literary tradition in Hindi and other South Asian languages. World literature will be richer by knowing some of the best writers in these languages. Life’s vocabulary will grow to from such an interaction,” she said.
Rockwell, a painter, writer and translator living in Vermont, USA, joined her on stage to receive her award for translating the novel which she described as a “love letter to the Hindi language”.
“Ultimately, we were captivated by the power, emotion and playfulness of ‘Tomb of Sand’, Geetanjali Shree’s polyphonic novel of identity and belonging, in the exuberant and catchy translation of Daisy Rockwell,” said Frank Wynne, foreman of the jury.
“This is a luminous novel about India and the score, but one whose haunting brilliance and fierce compassion weave youth and age, men and women, family and nation into a kaleidoscopic whole. “, did he declare.
The book’s 80-year-old protagonist Ma, to the dismay of her family, insists on traveling to Pakistan, simultaneously dealing with the unresolved trauma of her teenage experiences of Partition, and reevaluating what it means to be a mother. , a girl, a woman and a feminist.
Booker’s jury was impressed that rather than respond to the tragedy in earnest, Shree’s playful tone and exuberant pun resulted in an “engaging, funny and utterly original” book, at the same time time that it was an urgent and timely protest against the destructive effects. the impact of boundaries and boundaries, whether between religions, countries or genders.
Originally published in Hindi in 2018, “Tomb of Sand” is the first of Shree’s books to be published in the UK in English by Tilted Axis Press in August 2021.
This year, the judges examined 135 books.
Complementing the Booker Prize for Fiction, the international prize is awarded annually for a single book translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland.