Geetanjali Shree's Partition novel 'Tomb of Sand' wins International Booker Prize 2022

Photo: Collected

Indian writer Geetanjali Shree became the first author from the country to win the International Booker Prize for her Hindi novel set in the aftermath of the 1947 Partition of the Indian subcontinent.

Her novel Tomb of Sand, translated into English by American author Daisy Rockwell, is the story of an octogenarian woman after the death of her husband. It was the first Hindi-language book to be shortlisted for the £50,000 prize. The prize money will be shared by Geetanjali Shree and Daisy Rockwell.

"I never dreamt of the Booker, I never thought I could," Geetanjalee Shree said. "What a huge recognition. I'm amazed, delighted, honoured and humbled."

In her acceptance speech, she said, "Behind me and this book lies a rich and flourishing literary tradition in Hindi, and in other South Asian languages. World literature will be the richer for knowing some of the finest writers in these languages." 

Frank Wynne, the chair of the jury, said the panel was "captivated by the power, the poignancy and the playfulness" of her novel.

"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. 

He said he had not read anything like it before and its "exuberance" and "passion" make it a book "the world could do with right now."

The International Booker Prize is awarded every year for a book that is translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland.

Shree's 725-page novel competed against five other shortlisted titles, by Mieko Kawakami, Bora Chung, Jon Fosse, Claudia Pineiro and former winner Olga Tokarczuk.