In a first, Hindi novel shortlisted for an International Booker Prize

Author Geetanjali Shree’s Tomb of Sand recently made history by being the first Hindi-language novel to be shortlisted for the prestigious International Booker Prize. The work, translated to English by US-based artist Daisy Rockwell, will compete with five other titles from around the world. 

The International Booker Prize (IBP) complements the popular Booker Prize for Fiction and is awarded every year for a book that’s translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland. The coveted award recently announced its longlist of six titles. These include novels in Korean, Norwegian, Japanese, Spanish, and Polish as well as a Hindi-language novel Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree. Originally titled Ret Samadhi, the work was translated into English by artist, writer, and translator Daisy Rockwell. The winner is slated to be announced at a ceremony in London on May 26 and will receive Rs 49,42,880. 

Tomb of Sand described as “loud and irresistible” by International Booker Prize judges 

Published by Penguin, the novel is set in North India and tells the tale of an 80-year-old woman who tackles depression after the demise of her husband. Her struggle takes her to Pakistan, where she confronts unresolved childhood trauma that resulted from the Partition. As she’s met with a newfound zeal on life, much to her daughter’s bewilderment, the novel addresses concepts like motherhood, feminism, and trauma with ease. Despite its tragic setting, the work is hailed by many for not dwelling too long on grief and keeping the tone lighthearted to arrive at an answer to the question, ‘What does it mean to be a woman?’ 

Born in Manipur and based out of New Delhi, Geetanjali Shree is the author of several novels and short stories. Daughter of a civil servant, she spent a large part of her childhood in the eastern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The author credits her time in the region along with the lack of children’s books in English for her initial connection to the Hindi language, stating that she’d read Ramayana, Mahabharata, Arabian Nights, Panchatantra, Kathasaritsagara and Chandrakanta Santati growing up, as per a report by The National, Abu Dhabi.  

She’s a Lady Shri Ram College alumni and holds a masters in Modern Indian History from Jawaharlal Nehru University, where she wrote her thesis on the iconic Hindi author Premchand. (Source: Lifestyle Asia)  

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