Hindi author in world first for International Booker Prize longlist

Hindi author in world first for International Booker Prize longlist
Courtesy: International Booker Prize 2022

Indian author Geetanjali Shree’s Hindi language novel ‘Tomb of Sand’ has been named among books in different languages from the world over on the International Booker Prize 2022 longlist. Shree’s work becomes the first Hindi work of fiction to make the cut for the premier literary prize, awarded every year for a single book that is translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland. The book, translated into English by Daisy Rockwell, will compete for the £50,000 prize, which is split evenly between the author and translator.

“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 the 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.

Born in Mainpuri in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Shree is an author of three novels and several story collections and her works have been 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.

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Her translator, Daisy Rockwell, is a painter, writer and translator living in Vermont, US, who has translated a number of classic works of Hindi and Urdu literature.

The story of the novel is set in northern India as an 80-year-old woman slips into a deep depression at the death of her husband, then resurfaces to gain a new lease on life. To her family’s consternation, she insists on travelling to Pakistan, simultaneously confronting the unresolved trauma of her teenage experiences of Partition, and re-evaluating what it means to be a mother, a daughter, a woman, a feminist.

“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 Booker Prize judges note.

The other books to make the 2022 longlist of 13 from 135 entries worldwide include:

  1. ‘Cursed Bunny’ by Bora Chung, translated by Anton Hur from Korean

  1. After The Sun’ by Jonas Eika, translated by Sherilyn Nicolette Hellberg from Danish

  1. ‘A New Name: Septology VI-VII’ by Jon Fosse, translated by Damion Searls from Norwegian

  1. ‘More Than I Love My Life’ by David Grossman, translated by Jessica Cohen from Hebrew

  1. ‘The Book of Mother’ by Violaine Huisman, translated by Leslie Camhi from French

  1. ‘Heaven’ by Mieko Kawakami, translated by Samuel Bett and David Boyd from Japanese

  1. ‘Paradais’ by Fernanda Melchor, translated by Sophie Elizabeth Hughes from Spanish

  1. ‘Love in the Big City’ by Sang Young Park, translated by Anton Hur from Korean

  1. ‘Happy Stories, Mostly’ by Norman Erikson Pasaribu, translated by Tiffany Tsao from Indonesian

  1. ‘Elena Knows’ by Claudia Piñeiro, translated by Frances Riddle from Spanish

  1. ‘Phenotypes’ by Paulo Scott, translated by Daniel Hahn from Portuguese

  1. ‘The Books of Jacob’ by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft from Polish

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The 2022 shortlist for the prize will be announced on April 7 at the London Book Fair and the winner on May 26 at a ceremony in London. For the first time in 2022, the shortlisted authors and translators will each receive £2,500, increased from £1,000 in previous years – bringing the total value of the prize to £80,000.

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