Geetanjali Shree, a Hindi novelist who has made history by being the first Indian to get nominated and let alone win one of the most prestigious prize awards in the literary area, hails from Mainpuri, Uttar Pradesh.

Shree, who is the author of three novels and several story collections, is the first Hindi novelist to achieve the feat of the International Booker Prize with her novel, ‘Tomb of Sand’ or originally ‘Ret Samadhi’. With this achievement, the ‘Tomb of Sand’ has become the first book in any Indian language to win the prestigious International Booker Prize.

64-year-old Shree’s work has been translated into several languages including English, French, German, Serbian, and Korean and has received and been shortlisted for a number of awards and fellowships. ‘Tomb of Sand’ is one of her first books to be published in the UK. 

Reflecting upon becoming the first work of fiction in Hindi to make the Booker cut, the 64-year-old author said it feels good to be the means of that happening.

“But 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. The vocabulary of life will increase from such an interaction,” she said.

Shree’s book translated into English by Daisy Rockwell who is a painter, writer, and translator, was described by the judges as a “loud and irresistible novel”, and competed with five other titles from around the world for the prestigious 50,000 pounds literary prize.

At a ceremony in London on Thursday (May 27), the New Delhi-based writer said she was “completely overwhelmed” with the “bolt from the blue” as she accepted her prize, worth GBP 50,000 and shared with the book’s English translator, Daisy Rockwell.

“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.”

Tomb of Sand: Plot of the Novel 

The story of the novel is set in northern India as an 80-year-old woman slips into a deep depression after the death of her husband, then resurfaces to gain a new lease on life. To her family’s consternation, she insists on travelling to Pakistan, simultaneously confronting the unresolved trauma of her teenage experiences of Partition, and re-evaluating what it means to be a mother, a daughter, a woman, a feminist.

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