Geetanjali Shree’s “Tomb of Sand” becomes first ever book on International Booker prize longlist translated from Hindi

Geetanjali Shree has become the first book translated from Hindi to be nominated for the International Booker prize, The Guardian reports.

According to the report, the judges praised the “loud and irresistible” tale of an elderly woman who gains a new lease of life after her husband’s death.

The 64-year-old author’s fifth novel is among 13 titles in competition for the prestigious award for translated fiction, a £50,000 prize split evenly between author and translator. This year, the shortlisted authors and translators will also each receive £2,500, rather than the £1,000 they were given previously. The 2022 longlist includes books from 12 countries and translated from 11 languages.

Shree and her translator Daisy Rockwell are up against previous winner and Nobel laureate Olga Tokarczuk, whose epic novel The Books of Jacob has been called her “magnum opus”, and took Jennifer Croft seven years to translate.

Previous winners David Grossman and his translator Jessica Cohen have also made this year’s longlist for More Than I Love My Life, a multigenerational family novel described as “scrupulous” and “anguished” by Guardian reviewer Alex Clark.

Two more titles from Shree’s publishing house Tilted Axis have been selected: Happy Stories, Mostly by Norman Erikson Pasaribu and translator Tiffany Tsao, and Love in the Big City by Sang Young Park and translator Anton Hur. The small not-for-profit press mostly publishes Asian writers and was founded in 2015 by Deborah Smith, who translated the Man Booker International prize-winning The Vegetarian by Han Kang.

The 2022 longlist, which as usual is dominated by titles from independent presses, is the first time Tilted Axis has had books selected by the prize.

The angst of teenage years is a common theme on the longlist: Tomb of Sand’s protagonist, Ma, looks back at her troubled adolescence, while Fernanda Melchor’s Paradais centres on two misfit teenage boys who plan a terrible crime and Heaven by Mieko Kawakami is narrated by a bullied 14-year-old.

Family relations are also explored, from Grossman’s More Than I Love My Life, in which a strong-willed daughter returns to her family, to Violaine Huisman’s tale of a daughter’s love for her volatile “Maman”, The Book of Mother.

Chair of judges Frank Wynne said that “spending the past year in the company of some of the world’s great writers and their equally gifted translators has been a kind of heaven. From the intimate to the epic, the numinous to the profane, the books make up a passionately debated longlist that traces a ring around the world.”

He believes that the chosen books “explore the breadth and depth of human experience, and are a testament to the power of language and literature”.

Wynne, who is the first translator to head the prize’s judging panel, selected the longlist with four fellow judges: author and academic Merve Emre; writer and lawyer Petina Gappah; writer and comedian Viv Groskop and translator and author Jeremy Tiang.

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