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‘Tomb of Sand’ becomes first Hindi novel to win Bookers

New Delhi, May 27 (UNI): The winner of the International Bookers Prize 2022 has been declared with Delhi-based author Geetanjali Shree’s translated Hindi novel Tombs of Sand winning the prize, in a first for any book written in an Indian language.

Originally published in Hindi as Ret Samadhi in 2018, the book is translated into English by Daisy Rockwell. The novel is based on boundary-crossing 80-year-old protagonist in 1947 during the tumultuous and horrific partition of India facing the ghosts of her past.

The announcement on Twitter came with a short snippet of the various reviewers who read the book and wrote, “We are delighted to announce that the winner of the #2022InternationalBooker Prize is ‘Tomb of Sand’ by Geetanjali Shree, translated from Hindi to English by @shreedaisy and published by @tiltedaxispress.”

Geetanjali Shree, in her acceptance speech, said: “I never dreamt of the Booker, I never thought I could. What a huge recognition, I’m amazed, delighted, honoured and humbled.

“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.”

Talking of her book, Geetanjali Shree said, “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.”

Reflecting upon her victory and becoming the first Indian author, who won the Booker Prize in an Indian language, the 64-year-old author added: “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 richer for knowing some of the finest writers in these languages. The vocabulary of life will increase from such an interaction.”

Tomb of Sand is the first of her books to be published in the UK in English by Tilted Axis Press in August 2021.

Winning 50,000 pound, Geetanjali Shree’s ‘Tomb of Sand’ was chosen from a shortlist of six books in six languages, the others being: ‘Cursed Bunny’ by Bora Chung, translated by Anton Hur from Korean; ‘A New Name: Septology VI-VII’ by Jon Fosse, translated by Damion Searls from Norwegian; ‘Heaven’ by Mieko Kawakami, translated by Samuel Bett and David Boyd from Japanese; ‘Elena Knows’ by Claudia Piñeiro, translated by Frances Riddle from Spanish; and ‘The Books of Jacob’ by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft from Polish.

This year the judges considered 135 books and for the first time in 2022, all shortlisted authors and translators will each receive 2,500 pound, increased from 1,000 pound in previous years – bringing the total valuation of the prize money to 80,000 pound.

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