Home / News / India /  In a first, this Hindi novel gets long listed for International Booker Prize

LONDON : “The 13 long listed novels have been announced. They are works of fiction translated into English from 11 languages and originate from 12 countries across four continents - including Hindi for the first time," stated the announcement on the Booker Prizes website.

Geetanjali Shree's translated Hindi novel Tomb of Sand, translated from the original Ret Samadhi, that narrates the story of an 80-year-old woman who is depressed after her husband's death, has been long listed for the International Booker Prize 2022. 

This is the first time the translated text of a Hindi novel has been long-listed for the prestigious literary prize, according to the statement on the official website. 

Tomb of Sand has been translated by Daisy Rockwell. The judges described the narrative as “loud and irresistible". The novel is set to compete for the GBP 50,000 prize, which is split evenly between the author and translator.

Meanwhile, for the first time in 2022, shortlisted authors and translators will each receive GBP 2,500, increased from GBP 1,000 in previous years - bringing the total value of the prize to GBP 80,000.

The 2022 shortlist for the prize will be announced on 7 April at the London Book Fair and the winner on 26 May at a ceremony in London.

Tomb of Sand narrates the story of an 80-year-old woman who is depressed after her husband's death. Eventually, she overcomes her depression and decides to visit Pakistan to finally confront the past that she left behind during the Partition.

"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.

The New Delhi-based Shree, born in Mainpuri, Uttar Pradesh, is the author of three novels and several story collections with her work translated into English, French, German, Serbian, and Korean.

Reacting to the nomination in the longlist, Shree said, "Writing is its own reward. But getting recognition as special as from Booker is a wonderful bonus. The fact that there is much that is dismal all round in the world today, adds to the value of positive vibes in fields like literature. Stands out in my heart as hope..."

The author's other Hindi novels are "Mai", "Hamara Shahar Us Baras" and "Tirohit".

Shree, 64, is also active in theatre, has received and been shortlisted for a number of awards and fellowships. ‘Tomb of Sand’ is one of her first books to be published in the UK.

Rockwell said it was an honour to translate the book in English.

" Tomb of Sand is a rich, beautiful, experimental work. It was an honour to work with Geetanjali Shree to create the English translation. I am beyond thrilled that the International Booker Prize jury has chosen our book for the long list," Rockwell said in a statement.

Also in the long list are "Paradais", written by Fernanda Melchor and translated by Sophie Hughes; "Heaven", written by Mieko Kawakami and translated by Samuel Bett and David Boyd; "Love in the Big City", written by Sang Young Park and translated by Anton Hur; "Happy Stories, Mostly", written by Norman Erikson Pasaribu and translated by Tiffany Tsao; "Elena Knows", written by Claudia Piñeiro and translated by Frances Riddle.

Other novels in the list are: "The Book of Mother" by Violaine Huisman and translated by Leslie Camhi, "More Than I Love My Life" by David Grossman and translated by Jessica Cohen, "Phenotypes" by Paulo Scott and translated by Daniel Hahn, "A New Name: Septology VI-VII" by Jon Fosse and translated by Damion Searls, "After the Sun" by Jonas Eika and translated by Sherilyn Hellberg, "The Books of Jacob", written by Olga Tokarczuk and translated by Jennifer Croft, and "Cursed Bunny", which is written by Bora Chung and translated by Anton Hur.

Tokarczuk and Croft previously won the Booker Prize for writing and translating "Flights", while Grossman and Cohen were awarded the Booker for their work on "A Horse Walks into a Bar".

"From the intimate to the epic, the numinous to the profane, the books make up a passionately-debated longlist that trace a ring around the world. These 13 titles from 12 countries and 11 languages explore the breadth and depth of human experience, and are a testament to the power of language and literature," said Wynne, the first translator to chair the Booker judging panel.

Complementing the Booker Prize for Fiction, the prize is awarded every year for a single book that is translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland. 

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