• Monday, February 06, 2023


Hindi novel makes to International Booker Prize longlist

By: Shelbin MS

AUTHOR Geetanjali Shree’s novel ‘Tomb of Sand’ is among 13 books from across the world longlisted for the International Booker Prize, the first Hindi language work of fiction to make the cut for the prestigious literary prize, unveiled in London on Thursday (10).

Shree’s book, translated into English by Daisy Rockwell and described by the judges as “loud and irresistible”, will compete for the £50,000 prize, split evenly between the author and the translator.

In addition, for the first time in 2022, the shortlisted authors and translators will each receive £2,500, increased from £1,000 in previous years, bringing the total value of the prize to £80,000.

“The constantly shifting perspectives and timeframes of Geetanjali Shree’s inventive, energetic ‘Tomb of Sand’ lead us into every cranny of an 80-year-old woman’s life and surprising past,” the judges said of the Hindi novel.

“Daisy Rockwell’s spirited translation rises admirably to the complexity of the text, which is full of wordplay and verve. A loud and irresistible novel,” they said.

Born in Mainpuri in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Shree, 64, is an author of three novels and several story collections, with her work translated into English, French, German, Serbian, and Korean.

The New Delhi-based author has received and been shortlisted for a number of awards and fellowships. ‘Tomb of Raid’ is one of her first books to be published in the UK.

Her translator, Daisy Rockwell, is a painter, writer and translator living in Vermont, US, who has translated a number of classic works of Hindi and Urdu literature.

The story of the novel is set in northern India as an 80-year-old woman slips into a deep depression at the death of her husband, then resurfaces to gain a new lease of life. To her family’s consternation, she insists on travelling to Pakistan, simultaneously confronting the unresolved trauma of her teenage experiences of Partition, and re-evaluating what it means to be a mother, daughter, woman and feminist.

“Rather than respond to tragedy with seriousness, Geetanjali Shree’s playful tone and exuberant wordplay results in a book that 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,” the Booker Prize judges noted.

The other books to make the 2022 longlist from 135 entries worldwide include: ‘Cursed Bunny’ by Bora Chung, translated by Anton Hur from Korean; ‘After The Sun’ by Jonas Eika, translated by Sherilyn Nicolette Hellberg from Danish; ‘A New Name: Septology VI-VII’ by Jon Fosse, translated by Damion Searls from Norwegian; ‘More Than I Love My Life’ by David Grossman, translated by Jessica Cohen from Hebrew; and ‘The Book of Mother’ by Violaine Huisman, translated by Leslie Camhi from French.

The longlist was selected by a judging panel made up of translator Frank Wynne (chair), author and academic Merve Emre, writer and lawyer Petina Gappah, writer, comedian and TV, radio and podcast presenter Viv Groskop, and translator and author Jeremy Tiang.

Complementing the Booker Prize for Fiction, the prize is awarded every year for a single book that is translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland.

The 2022 shortlist for the prize will be announced on April 7 at the London Book Fair and the winner on May 26 at a ceremony in London.


Related Stories