Ahead of the announcement of the 2023 International Booker Prize winner tomorrow, May 23, BLOT has taken a look back at the book, and the author behind it, that was lucky enough to win last year.
The 2022 International Booker Prize was won by Tomb of Sand, written by Geetanjali Shree and translated by Daisy Rockwell, who together split the £50,000 prize.
The book was first published in Hindi in 2018 and is the first book originally written in an Indian language to be awarded the prize.
The story follows Ma, and 80-year-old women from northern India. After the death of her husband, Ma seeks a new lease of life.
The book tackles many issues left by the British empire, including the oppression of Hijra people (a distinct group of unisex of transgender people from the Indian sub content), one of whom Ma befriends, much to her daughter’s surprise.
It turns of that Ma had a harrowing childhood, being present at the partition of India in 1947 where 1.5 million people were killed. She thus takes the decision to travel to Pakistan against her families wishes to see if she can heal her mental trauma.
Though the book tackles heavy issues it does so with a sense of humour and is a poignant protest against geographical and religious borders.
Frank Wynne, chair of the judges, said:
“Ultimately, we were captivated by the power, the poignancy and the playfulness of “Tomb of Sand”, Geetanjali Shree’s polyphonic novel of identity and belonging, in Daisy Rockwell’s exuberant, coruscating translation. This is a luminous novel of India and partition, but one whose spellbinding brio and fierce compassion weaves youth and age, male and female, family and nation into a kaleidoscopic whole.”
The 2022 International Booker Prize was the biggest ever, with 135 books originally considered. This reflects the growth seen in the number of international novels being translated into English, the encouragement of which from The International Booker Prize has been key to.
Above: Author of Tomb of Sand Geetanjali Shree (right) and translator Daisy Rockwell (left)
About the author:
Geetanjali Shree was born in Manipuri, India in 1957. Tomb of Sand was the writers first book to be translated into English, though now her work has now been translated into French, German, Serbian and Korean.
Now based in New Delhi, Shree fist got into writing whilst working on her PhD thesis at Maharaja Sayajirao University, with her first story being published in 1987, and her first novel, Mai, published in 1993.
About the translator:
Daisy Rockwell was born in Vermont, USA in 1969. She specialises in translating works from Hindi and Urdu, including Upendranath Ashk’s Falling Walls and Bhisham Sahni’s Tamas and Khadija Mastur’s The Women’s Courtyard.
She is also the granddaughter of well-known painter and illustrator Norman Rockwell.
If you liked this post then read this years’s International Booker Prize Shortlist or Interview with Julia Sanches: Translator of International Booker Prize shortlisted book Boulder next.
Arthur is a journalism student at The University of Sheffield. As well as being a founding member of BLOT, he has also written for Forge Press, Sheff Central and One2Football. His hobbies include climbing, going to gigs and of course, reading.
Favourite genres: Magical Realism and Historical Fiction.