Geetanjali Shree’s ‘Tomb of Sand’ 1st in Hindi on Intl Booker shortlist

New Delhi, April 7 : In a first for a Hindi book, New Delhi-based author Geetanjali Shree’s book “Tomb of Sand” has been shortlisted for the International Booker Prize 2022. Shree’s book translated into English by Daisy Rockwell, will compete with five other titles from around the world for the prestigious 50,000 pounds literary prize, which is split evenly between the author and translator. The titles include ‘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 evaluated over 135 books, with a record number of submissions with the panel of judges being comprised of 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. “Translation is an intimate, intricate dance that crosses borders, cultures and languages. “There is little to compare to the awe and exhilaration of discovering a perfect pairing of writer and translator,” said Wynne, chair of the judges and the first translator to lead the Booker judging panel. “As a jury we have had the pleasure of reading many extraordinary books, and choosing a shortlist from among them has been difficult and sometimes heart-breaking. These six titles from six languages explore the borders and boundaries of human experience, whether haunting and surreal, poignant and tender, or exuberant and capricious. “In their differences, they offer glimpses of literature from around the world, but they all share a fierce and breath-taking originality that is a testament to the endless inventiveness of fiction,” he said. “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 Geetanjali Shree’s Hindi novel. “Daisy Rockwell’s spirited translation rises admirably to the complexity of the text, which is full of word play and verve. A loud and irresistible novel,” they said. A Mainpuri born in Uttar Pradesh, Shree is an author of three novels and several story collections, with her work translated into English, French, German, Serbian, and Korean. The 64-year-old 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. Dedicated to Krishna Sobti, who Geetanjali Shree refers to as her guru, the book chronicles the story of an 80-year-old woman from north India, who after her husband’s death, slips into depression. However, she eventually emerges out of the darkness of her despair, and begins the reconstructing the lost threads of her life as she destroys the boundaries set up by society on the basis of gender and in the name of countries. Befriending a transgender and revisiting Pakistan she is eventually able to reconcile with her demons and the sadness of her past trauma that she had faced during the partition of the country moving forward with her life. “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 judges noted. Complementing the Booker Prize for Fiction, the international prize is awarded every year for a single book that is translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland. The winner for 2022 will be announced at a ceremony in London on May 26. ANV ING

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