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Geetanjali Shree’s Becomes First Indian Author to Win International Booker Prize for Translated Fiction

Geetanjali Shree’s Becomes First Indian Author to Win International Booker Prize for Translated Fiction

  • Originally published as “Ret Samadhi” in 2018, “Tomb of Sand” was translated into English by Daisy Rockwell.

Indian author Geetanjali Shree’s Hindi novel “Tomb of Sand,” translated into English by Daisy Rockwell, has won the 2022 International Booker Prize for Translated Fiction. It is the first book originally written in any Indian language to win the coveted award. It was originally published as “Ret Samadhi” in 2018. Shree and Rockwell will split the prize of 50,000 British pounds, about $63,000, which they received at a ceremony in London on May 26.

According to the Booker website, the book follows an 80-year-old woman “who slips into a deep depression at the death of her husband,” and then resurfaces to gain a new lease of life. “Her determination to fly in the face of convention confuses her bohemian daughter, who is used to thinking of herself as the more ‘modern’ of the two,” says the book’s synopsis. “To her family’s consternation, Ma then insists on traveling to Pakistan, confronting the unresolved trauma of her teenage experiences of Partition.”

Booker says the book is “engaging, funny and utterly original, at the same time as being an urgent and timely protest against the destructive impact of borders and boundaries – whether between religions, countries or genders.”

Three said on the Booker website that the award is not just about her. “I represent a language and culture and this recognition brings into larger purview the entire world of Hindi literature in particular and Indian literature as a whole.”

According to Frank Wynne, chair of the judges “Tomb of Sand” is “a luminous novel of India and partition, but one whose spellbinding brio and fierce compassion weaves youth and age, male and female, family and nation into a kaleidoscopic whole.”

Calling the book “a rich, beautiful, experimental work,” Rockwell said in a statement that she was honored to work with Shree “to create the English translation,” according to The Times of India.

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Author of three novels and several story collections, Shree’s work has been translated into English, French, German, Serbian and Korean. She was born in Mainpur in 1957. “Tomb of Sand” is the first of her books to be published in the UK. She has received and been shortlisted for a number of awards and fellowships, and currently lives in New Delhi.

The International Booker Prize is awarded every year to the best book translated into English and published in Britain or Ireland. It is separate from the better-known Booker Prize, awarded for novels originally written in English.

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