Indian author Geetanjali Shree has created history. Her novel Tomb of Sand (translated by Daisy Rockwell) has won the International Booker prize. Originally titled Ret Samadhi, the novel became the first-ever work of Hindi literature to not only win but even get nominated for the International Booker Prize.
Tomb of Sand follows the story of an 80-year-old woman who travels to Pakistan to make peace with her memories and trauma of partition. According to the chair of judges Frank Wynne, “This 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.”
Author Geetanjali Sree and Daisy Rockwell (who translated her book) celebrate their win
A New Delhi-based Hindi author, born in Uttar Pradesh's Mainpuri in 1957, Geetanjali wrote Ret Samadhi in 2018. She was born Geetanjali Pandey but took her mother’s first name Shree as her last name. After moving to Delhi for her higher education, she went on to study History at Lady Shree Ram College,followed by a Master’s from Jawaharlal Nehru University. A novelist and short-story writer, Geetanjali wrote her first story Bel Patra in 1987. She has five novels to her credit and many short story collections.Her novels and stories have been translated into many languages, including Gujarati, Urdu, English, French, Siberian, and Korean. Her fifth novel Ret Samadhi was published in 2018 and was translated by Daisy Rockwell into English and by Annie Montaut into French.
On winning the award, Geetanjali Shree shared: “This is not just about me, the individual. 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...There is a vast world of literature with rich lineages which still needs to be discovered. I am pleased and humbled to be the conduit for this,” she added."If you are a writer it becomes your way of being to have stories imbue your senses all the time and also to realise that everything is a story and everything tells a story. This becomes as natural as your breath. Or is your breath!"