Geetanjali Shree’s Hindi novel ‘Tomb of Sand’ has become the first book in any Indian language to win the International Booker Prize.
‘Tomb of Sand’, originally ‘Ret Samadhi’, is set in northern India and follows an 80-year-old woman in a tale the Booker judges anointed a “joyous cacophony” and an “irresistible novel”.
I never dreamt of the Booker, I never thought I could. What a huge recognition, I’m amazed, delighted, honoured and humbled,” said Ms Shree, in her acceptance speech.
“There is a melancholy satisfaction in the award going to it. ‘Ret Samadhi/Tomb of Sand’ is an elegy for the world we inhabit, 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 said.
“The book tells the story of an octogenarian widow who dares to cast off convention and confront the ghosts of her experiences during the subcontinent’s tumultuous 1947 partition into India and Pakistan.”
Translator Frank Wynne said that despite encountering traumatic events, “it is an extraordinarily exuberant and incredibly playful book.”
“It manages to take issues of great seriousness — bereavement, loss, death — and conjure up an extraordinary choir, almost a cacophony, of voices,” he said.
“It is extraordinarily fun and it is extraordinarily funny.”