Critically acclaimed author Geetanjali Shree’s novel Tomb of Sand, translated from Hindi by Daisy Rockwell, has been announced the winner of this year’s International Booker Prize. The news broke earlier today. This is the first time the translation of an Indian language book has won the prestigious award, honouring translated fiction from around the world. Tomb of Sand was first published in Hindi as Ret Samadhi in 2018 and Penguin India released its English translation in March 2022. This book has also been the winner of the English Pen Award.
One of the finest works by Geetanjali Shree, Tomb of Sand has received a lot appreciation from readers, who have reviewed it as engaging, funny and utterly original. Based on a tragic premise, the story however has a playful tone and exuberant wordplay. At the same time, it is an urgent and timely protest against the destructive impact on borders and boundaries, whether between religions, countries, or gender. This book is available for purchase on all leading e-commerce websites and in bookstores near you.
Author Geetanjali Shree and translator Daisy Rockwell commented on winning the prize, saying, ‘We are quite incoherent. We are both ecstatic and wonder if we are dreaming!’
Here is a short quote from Geetanjali Shree’s acceptance speech at the award ceremony, ‘This is a bolt from the blue but what a nice one, and I am still reeling. I never dreamt of the booker, I never thought I could. What a huge recognition. I am amazed, delighted honoured and humbled. Tomb of Sand is an elegy for the world we inhabit, a laughing elegy 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 world no harm. Even since the book got longlisted, much has been written about Hindi making it for the first time. It feels good to be the means of that happening but also obliges me to emphasise that behind me and this book, lies a rich and flourishing tradition in Hindi and South Asian languages.’
Daisy Rockwell was heard saying, ‘I am mostly going to give thanks. My thanks is to the Booker judges and I can’t even believe the feat of reading 135 books. It is beyond my comprehension. Considering how many books you chose to read, you chose to read our rather chunky text and allowed it to rise to these heights.’
Rea Mukherjee, Commissioning Editor, Penguin Random House India says, ‘I am overjoyed to see the love, praise, and appreciation that Tomb of Sand has received from readers across the world! It is a matter of great honour that the International Booker Committee has chosen this as the winner for 2022, making it a truly historic event. Penguin India is privileged to represent Geetanjali and Daisy, and I hope we see many books from them together.’
Meru Gokhale, Publisher, Penguin Press, Penguin Random House India, says, ‘It’s a landmark day for Indian publishing. This win honours Geetanjali Shree’s genius, and Daisy Rockwell’s brilliant translation. Just as excitingly, it also opens up possibilities for so many other writers and translators who I hope will now reach international readers.’
The International Booker Prize is one of the most prestigious awards in translated literature, giving both the author and translator a platform to showcase their exemplary work in translations.
The shortlist for the 2022 International Booker Prize included six titles and their information can be found here. The jury was chaired by Frank Wynne, an Irish literary translator from French and Spanish. The judging panel consisted of Merve Emre, Associate Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford, Zimbabwean lawyer and writer, Petina Gappah, translator and author, Jeremy Tiang, and Viv Groskop, writer, critic, broadcaster and stand-up comedian.
About the Author
Author of four novels and several story collections, Geetanjali Shree’s work has been translated into English, French, German, Serbian, and Korean. She has received and been shortlisted for a number of awards and fellowships, and lives in New Delhi.
About the Translator
Daisy Rockwell is an artist, writer and translator living in northern New England, USA. Apart from her essays on literature and art, she has written Upendranath Ashk: A Critical Biography, The Little Book of Terror and the novel Taste. Her highly acclaimed translations include, among others, Upendranath Ashk’s Falling Walls and Bhisham Sahni’s Tamas, published in Penguin Classics.