Indian author Geetanjali Shree’s 2018 novel Tomb of Sand (Ret Samadhi in Hindi) has won the International Booker Prize. It is a prize awarded annually to writers in languages other than English.
It was translated into English by American painter and translator Daisy Rockwell; and published in English by Tilted Axis Press. The two women, author and translator, share the 50,000 GBP award between them.
Tomb of Sand is the story of an eighty-year old woman who becomes depressed after her husband passes away. She then decides to reinvent her life, much to the consternation of her bohemian daughter, who considers herself a lot more open-minded than her mother. She befriends a person from the transgender community, and travels to Pakistan in the hope of confronting trauma that has remained unresolved since she survived the partition as a teenager.
Geetanjali Shree has had her work widely translated into other languages.
“Once you’ve got women and a border, a story can write itself. Even women on their own are enough. Women are stories in themselves, full of stirrings and whisperings that float on the wind, that bend with each blade of grass,” Shree writes in the opening pages of the novel.
Shree’s 725-page novel competed against five other shortlisted titles, including past winner, Olga Tokarzuck.