Creating a golden chapter in the history of Hindi literature, this year Geetanjali Shree's 'Ret Samadhi' or 'Tomb of Sand' has become the first Hindi book to be awarded the prestigious 2022 International Booker Prize. It is also the first book written in an Indian language to bag this award.
Based in New Delhi, Gitanjali Shree (64) is a celebrated but 'silent' writer who has been actively contributing to Hindi literature for over three decades. Her first novel 'Maai' came in the 1990s and followed by her next novel 'Hamara Shahar Us Baras'. After this came 'Tirohit' and 'Khali Jagah'.
We have called Gitanjali Shree a silent writer because, despite being a writer of Hindi literature for three decades, she has been active peacefully, without being a part of the debate. However, her writing is so vocal that even before this recent acclaim of International Booker Prize, she has been nominated for the 'Crossword Award' for the English translation of her novel 'Maai'.
There is a kind of spontaneity in the writings of Gitanjali Shree which advises the readers to look at things and events with a fresh and new perspective. In this spontaneity, along with the passionate gaze of a woman, the meaning of what we see also changes as it happened with 'Ret Samadhi' this time. This novel has been translated into English as 'Tomb of Sand' by famous translator Daisy Rockwell. Interestingly, Daisy Rockwell herself is also a painter, writer, translator. Therefore, it can be assumed that if justice has been done to the translation of this soulful work by Gitanjali Shree, the credit goes of it goes largely to Daisy Rockwell's own understanding of it.
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It is a common event that when translated from one language to another, the original spirit of the literature is often seen suffocating, because a good translation is no less than an art itself. The translation of the works of many top Hindi writers has also suffered this misfortune from Rajendra Yadav, Nirmal Verma, Bhishma Sahni to Kamleshwar. However, Gitanjali Shree's work got a competent translator, who put the characters created by her with full vibrancy and transparency before the literary world of non-Hindi languages.
It is worth mentioning that this novel 'Ret Samadhi' by Gitanjali Shree has been written on a subject on which, many literary works have been penned in the past. Based on the life of an eighty-year-old old woman, this novel is set in the backdrop of North India. Covering religion, caste, country and gender, this novel is an amalgamation of many facts, for which there are no answers in the history. The most beautiful thing about this novel is that it gives such a fresh perspective to a time, which has always traditionally been looked at from a certain point of view, by the readers and most of the writers as well.
The same thing was said by the jury attached to the International Booker Prize. He said that 'Tomb of Sand' is the first book originally written in any Indian language to win the International Booker Prize. Furthermore, the jury was pleasantly surprised that a tragedy that has always been taken seriously has been looked at with a different perspective here. This is a novel written on the background of the partition of India, in which if there is a feeling of pain, then there is also a tint flirtation. Obviously, it had to happen, because this is a novel seen through a woman's point of view and told from a woman's pen.
Apart from this, the novel also tries to unravel the many layers of that third gender world, which has always been a subject to be seen under the cover of a mystery.
During the award ceremony, Geetanjali Shree said, “I never imagined winning the Booker Prize. Never thought that I could do this. This is a big prize. I am surprised, happy, and feel very grateful.
An amount of about fifty lakh rupees to be given under this award will be divided equally between the writer and the translator.
It's time to rejoice in Hindi literature. On behalf of Cityspidy, many congratulations to the author Geetanjali Shree!
Translated By: Nikita Sharma