International Booker Prize Winner hosted for Virtual Discussion

The India Center hosted Tomb of Sand author Geetanjali Shree, Ph.D., and translator Daisy Rockwell, Ph.D., winners of the 2022 International Booker Prize in a virtual discussion on December 3, 2022.  Amrita Ghosh, Ph.D., assistant professor in UCF’s Department of English and a faculty affiliate of the India Center, moderated the presentation.

Tomb of Sand, Ret Samadhi in Hindi, is the first book translated from an Indian language to win the International Booker prize.  It was also the first Hindi novel to make the International Booker longlist.  Tomb of Sand tells the story of an 80-year-old woman in north India who travels to Pakistan following the death of her husband. The author explained that the partition of India and Pakistan plays in the background throughout the novel.  It incorporates realism, fables, and magical realism. Shree said she grew up with fable storytelling which subconsciously affected her writing. 

During the conversation, Rockwell and Shree discussed the lengthy process of translating the book from Hindi to English while capturing the wordplay and humor.  Shree said she put a lot of love into writing Ret Samadhi and she could see that Rockwell was putting just as much love into the English translation.  Rockwell explained translation is a reworking, containing something old and new.  She would ask about ten questions per page of the book to understand Shree’s meaning.  The English translation, therefore, is much longer than the Hindi.  Both Shree and Rockwell shared their hopes that winning the International Booker prize would lead the way for greater reading of South Asian literature. 

The event, which was the author and translator’s first public discussion of Tomb of Sand in the United States, was a collaboration between the India Center, UCF’s Department of English and Radical Books Collective. 

Watch the full discussion here or by viewing it below.

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