Author Geetanjali Shree’s Hindi novel ‘Tomb of Sand’ has become the first book in any Indian language to win the prestigious International Booker Prize.
At a ceremony in London on Thursday, the New Delhi-based writer said she was “completely overwhelmed” with the “bolt from the blue” as she accepted her prize, worth GBP 50,000 and shared with the book’s English translator, Daisy Rockwell.
‘Tomb of Sand’, originally ‘Ret Samadhi’, 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”.
“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, 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 said.
Reflecting upon becoming the first work of fiction in Hindi to make the Booker cut, 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.