Watch: Moment when Geetanjali Shree won Booker Prize for her Hindi novel
Author Geetanjali Shree created history on Thursday night by becoming the first to win the International Booker Prize for a novel originally written in Hindi. The book titled ‘Tomb of Sand’, or ‘Ret Samadhi’, also became the first novel in any Indian language to win the prestigious award.
The New Delhi-based writer said she was “completely overwhelmed” with the "bolt from the blue" as she accepted her prize during the award ceremony in London. The 50,000-pound ($63,000) prize money will be split between Shree and the book's English translator, Daisy Rockwell, who lives in Vermont.
The book, set in northern India, follows an octogenarian widow woman in a tale the Booker judges dubbed a “joyous cacophony” and an "irresistible novel".
The official Twitter handle of the Booker Prizes shared a video of the moment when Geetanjali Shree and Daisy Rockwell found out they had won the coveted prize for ‘Tomb of Stone’. In the video, Shree and Rockwell can be seen hugging each other amid a huge round of applause.
“I never dreamt of the Booker, I never thought I could. What a huge recognition, I’m amazed, delighted, honoured and humbled,” said Shree, in her acceptance speech.
“There is a melancholy satisfaction in the award going to it. ‘Ret Samadhi/Tomb of Sand’ is an elegy for the world we inhabit, a lasting energy that retains hope in the face of impending doom. The Booker will surely take it to many more people than it would have reached otherwise, that should do the book no harm,” she added.
Rockwell, a painter, writer and translator, joined Shree on stage to receive her award for translating the novel she described as a “love letter to the Hindi language".
“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,” said Frank Wynne, himself a translator and chair of the judging panel.
“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,” he said.
Shree's novel was chosen from a shortlist of six books, the others being: ‘Cursed Bunny’ by Bora Chung, translated by Anton Hur from Korean; ‘A New Name: Septology VI-VII’ by Jon Fosse, translated by Damion Searls from Norwegian; ‘Heaven’ by Mieko Kawakami, translated by Samuel Bett and David Boyd from Japanese; ‘Elena Knows’ by Claudia Piñeiro, translated by Frances Riddle from Spanish; and ‘The Books of Jacob’ by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft from Polish.
The International Booker Prize is awarded every year for a single book that is translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland.
(With PTI inputs)