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Indian Writer Geetanjali Shree’s ‘Tomb of Sand’ Wins International Booker Prize

The International Booker Prize was awarded to Indian author Geetanjali Shree and American translator Daisy Rockwell on Thursday for their work on “Tomb of Sand,” a compelling novel with an 80-year-old protagonist who pushes social boundaries.

Tomb of Sand, the book by Geetanjali Shree that won this year’s International Booker Prize, will be published in the United States this winter under a HarperCollins Publishers subsidiary. It was first published in Hindi and is the first novel in any Indian language to get the prestigious prize, honoring worldwide fiction that has been translated into English. Shree, based in New Delhi, and Rockwell, who resides in Vermont, will share the 50,000 pounds in prize money.

As translator and panel chair Frank Wynne noted, the judge’s decision was made after an emotionally charged debate. Even though it confronts tragic events, Wynne described it as an incredibly playful and exuberant book.

What is the Tomb of Sand Story about?

Daisy Rockwell translated Tomb of Sand from its original Hindi, a story about an elderly widow reflecting on the 1947 division of British India into India and Pakistan. The International Booker Prize for fiction translated into English has been awarded for the first time in any Indian language.

According to Wynne, the award’s goal was to demonstrate that “literature in translation is not some type of cod liver oil that is meant to be healthy for you.”

Tilted Axis Press is a small publisher in Britain that releases “Tomb of Sand.” To publish works from Asia, it was established by translator Deborah Smith, Translator of Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”. Deborah won the International Booker prize in 2016.

The book has not yet been released in the United States, but Wynne predicted that would change after its Booker victory thanks to “a frenzy of proposals.”

Wynne remarked that if sales in Britain didn’t grow by more than 1,000% in the next week, “I would be astounded.” He also exclaimed, “Maybe more.”

The International Booker Prize: What is it?

Every year, a translated piece of literature released in the UK or Ireland is given the International Booker Prize. It runs concurrently with the Booker Prize for English-language literature.

The award was created to honour literary translators for their frequently underappreciated work and to raise awareness of fiction written in foreign languages, which makes up a small portion of novels published in Britain.

According to HarperVia editor Gretchen Schmid, the book was a literary masterpiece, unlike anything she had ever read. “I’m in awe of the complexity and vibrant language. Geetanjali Shree writes about death, loss, and trauma in a profound and affecting way, but also amusing and hilarious.”

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