Geetanjali Shree, shortlisted author by International Booker

In a historic moment, Geetanjali Shree has become the first Indian author to have her work shortlisted for the International Booker Prize. hindi novel, Ret Samadhi has been translated into English as sand tomb by Daisy Rockwell. Shree is no stranger to literary stardom. Her previous novels such as Mai and Khali Jagah have also been translated into different languages. In an interview with News18, the 64-year-old talks about the importance of languages ​​in a person’s consciousness and why she finds it abhorrent when one is pitted against the other. Excerpts:

Congratulations on making the shortlist! It is a tremendous achievement. How important do you think this moment is when you think of post-colonial Hindi literature?

This is hugely important because by shedding light on a Hindi work, it also illuminates the larger canvas of Hindi literature. This clearly indicates that there is much heretofore unknown and encourages the effort to explore these regions. Plus, it expands the reach of a larger non-English South Asian scene and that’s so exciting, so important.

You mentioned in an interview that a good translator doesn’t just translate your work, but translates it creatively. What was your relationship with the translated version, the translator herself and is there a place for the enrichment of the prose when it is translated?

Yes, I stand by that – a translation is not a shadow of the source text, but a transcreated work. The translator is no good if her work does not animate the translation in her new cultural and linguistic environment. Daisy did just that, otherwise so many new readers, including those in the Booker world, wouldn’t have enjoyed the novel so much that it has to be shortlisted.

My relationship with Daisy and her work was increasingly enriching – once we found our rapport and trust with each other, we dialogued more and more and a refined text was born.

Of course, prose gets richer in a good translation, but don’t think that means a mediocre text gets richer – a rich text gets richer differently.

India’s English literature has been widely read. In a country as linguistically diverse as India, do we face a problem of excess? Does an average Indian give up his interest in them and settle for the bare minimum?

No, why settle for the bare minimum? It is important to live our lineage and let many streams irrigate our culture. Multilingual multiculturalism is most enriching and exciting. There is infinite richness in pluralism. Only a narrow ego and mind would want a narrowed monolingual existence.

Ret Samadhi was translated by Daisy Rockwell into Tomb of Sand.

Can you tell us a bit more about the writing process and the birth of Tomb of Sand?

It took me many years to complete it. It is not a single linear story, but rather a whole world of diversity and unity of nature and the human and even the inanimate that breathes life into this work.

There is of course a central story in which many other stories find their way – starting with an old woman who seems to have no interest in living anymore but actually surprises everyone by reinventing herself and her life. . Her character dynamic evolves so much that she begins to cross boundaries of all kinds and once that starts there is no stopping her or the story!

India has always had a literary voice. Its literature has inspired the world throughout the centuries. What do you think of the role of an Indian writer today? Is it still a driving force?

Let’s be clear on this – it’s not about India alone inspiring the world but a reciprocal interaction between them. Good literature always inspires, but not in an immediately measurable way. It opens new rich spaces within us, it sharpens our ways of seeing, being and expressing ourselves, it makes us more sensitive human beings, it moves us with hope, love and humanity.

The literature of India and of the world must be made more accessible to all.

Do you think that it is only in its native languages ​​that writing exercises the greatest power?

We write best in the language with which we are most comfortable. It doesn’t always have to be the native language. It can also be an acquired language.

Finally, what does the Booker represent for you?

This means great recognition but does not change my main job which is to write in solitude with the greatest commitment.

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