Indian author Geetanjali Shree has bagged the prestigious International Booker Prize 2022, becoming the first Indian author to win the award on May 27, 2022.
Geetanjali’s Hindi novel ‘Tomb of Sand’ has become the first book in any Indian language to win the prestigious International Booker Prize.
The novel was originally written in Hindi as ‘Ret Samadhi’, and then the book was translated into the English language by Daisy Rockwell. ‘Tomb of Sand’ is set in northern India and follows an 80-year-old woman in a tale the Booker judges dubbed a “joyous cacophony” and an “irresistible novel”.
The International Booker Prize is given to “a single book, translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland.” The GBP 50,000 worth award is shared equally between the author and the translator.
Geetanjali Shree on Thursday said she was “completely overwhelmed” with the “bolt from the blue” as she accepted her prize along with translator Daisy Rockwell.
“I never dreamt of the Booker, I never thought I could. What a huge recognition, I’m amazed, delighted, honoured and humbled,” said Shree, in her acceptance speech in London. “There is a melancholy satisfaction in the award going to it. ‘Ret Samadhi/Tomb of Sand’ is an elegy for the world we inhabit, a lasting energy that retains hope in the face of impending doom. The Booker will surely take it to many more people than it would have reached otherwise, that should do the book no harm,” she added.
The 64-year-old author said it feels good to be the means of that happening. “But behind me and this book lies a rich and flourishing literary tradition in Hindi, and in other South Asian languages. World literature will be the richer for knowing some of the finest writers in these languages. The vocabulary of life will increase from such an interaction,” she said.
Rockwell, a painter, writer and translator living in Vermont, US, joined her on stage to receive her award for translating the novel she described as a “love letter to the Hindi language”.
“Ultimately, we were captivated by the power, the poignancy and the playfulness of ‘Tomb of Sand’, Geetanjali Shree’s polyphonic novel of identity and belonging, in Daisy Rockwell’s exuberant, coruscating translation,” said Frank Wynne, chair of the judging panel. “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,” he said.
This year, 135 books were considered, and for the first time in 2022, all shortlisted authors and translators will each receive GBP 2,500, increased from GBP 1,000 in previous years – bringing the total value of the prize to GBP 80,000.
(With inputs from PTI)