Indian author Geetanjali Shree and US translator Daisy Rockwell won the International Booker Prize for the Hindi novel “Tomb of Sand”, the first for an Indian language book.
The prestigious A $ 88,000 (£ 50,000) award is given to fiction from around the world which has been translated into English and is shared between the author and translator.
The novel is set in northern India and follows an 80-year-old woman as she copes with her unresolved trauma as a teenager during her 1947 split with Pakistan.
The judges hailed “a book that is engaging, entertaining and utterly original, at the same time as an urgent and timely protest against the destructive impact of borders and borders, whether between religions, countries or genders”.
Jury president Frank Wynne said the novel “has an exuberance, a life, a power and a passion that the world can do right now.”
It is Shree’s third novel, based in New Delhi, and her first to be published in the UK.
Born in 1957, her works have been translated into English, French, German, Serbian and Korean.
“It’s not just about me, the individual,” Shree said.
Translator Daisy Rockwell (left) and author Geetanjali Shree (right). sources: AAP / David Parry / PA
“I represent a language and a culture and this recognition leads to a wider reach than the whole world of Hindi literature in particular and Indian literature as a whole.”
Hindi is one of the 447 languages in India.
Shree said there is richness and variation in the Hindi language.
“I think all languages have within them the ability to cross borders and reinvent words, borrow words and puns, and be adventurous … There is no single Hindi. There are so many Hindi.”
Rockwell is based in Vermont in the United States and has translated several classic 20th century works from Hindi and Urdu.
“Tomb of Sand” was “one of the most difficult I’ve ever translated due to the experimental nature of Geetanjali’s writing and its unique use of language,” he said.
Born in 1969, Rockwell is a painter and writer who only translates women “after getting tired of the male gaze, of misogyny,” she said on Twitter.
Other nominees for the award, awarded late Thursday in London, included Polish Nobel Prize winner Olga Tokarczuk, Argentine Claudia Pineiro, and Norwegian Jon Fosse.
The International Booker Prize is awarded annually to a translated work of fiction published in the UK or Ireland. It is run alongside the Booker Prize for English-language fiction.
(Left to right) Selected authors Bora Chung, Mieko Kawakami, Jon Fosse, Geetanjali Shree and Claudia Pineiro at the 2022 International Booker Prize Award Ceremony. sources: AAP / David Parry / PA
The award was established to strengthen the profile of fiction in other languages - which represents only a small fraction of books published in Britain – and to salute the often unrecognized work of literary translators.
Wynne said the award was intended to show that “translated literature isn’t some form of cod liver oil that’s supposed to be good for you.”
The 2022 shortlist includes works translated from Korean, Norwegian, Japanese, Spanish, Hindi and Polish. The works explore different aspects of trauma, both on an individual and social level.
The shortlist includes authors who had been previous winners – Olga Tokarczuk and Jennifer Croft – along with authors who have translated their books into English for the first time.
Additional reporting: AAP