• Friday, June 14, 2024

For the first time, a Hindi novel has won the Booker Prize: Geetanjali Shree's "Tomb Of Sand"

on May 27, 2022
Geetanjali Shree

'Tomb of Sand,' by Geetanjali Shree, has become the first book in any Indian language to win the prestigious International Booker Prize. 'Tomb of Sand,' originally titled 'Ret Samadhi,' is set in northern India and follows an 80-year-old woman in a story termed a "joyous cacophony" and a "irresistible novel" by the Booker judges.

'Ret Samadhi/Tomb of Sand' is an elegy for the world we live in, a sustaining spirit that keeps hope alive in the face of imminent tragedy. Reflecting on becoming the first work of fiction in Hindi to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize, the 64-year-old novelist said it feels fantastic to be a part of that history. 

To her family's chagrin, the book's 80-year-old protagonist, Ma, insists on travelling to Pakistan, addressing the unresolved trauma of her youthful experiences of Partition and re-evaluating what it means to be a mother, a daughter, a woman, a feminist.

The Booker jury was impressed by Ms Shree's playful tone and exuberant wordplay, which resulted in a book that is "engaging, funny, and utterly original" while also being an urgent and timely protest against the destructive impact of borders and boundaries, whether between religions, countries, or genders.

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.

The judges assessed 135 novels this year, and for the first time in 2022, all shortlisted authors and translators will each earn GBP 2,500, up from GBP 1,000 in prior years, increasing the total value of the prize to GBP 80,000.

In addition to the Booker Prize for Fiction, the international prize is given each year for a single book that has been translated into English and published in the United Kingdom or Ireland.

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