Geetanjali Shree Looking Back On Her Booker Winning Book: ‘Ret Samadhi’ Is Such A Mad Book, I thought People Might Reject It|Exclusive
Geetanjali Shree Looking Back On Her Booker Winning Book: ‘Ret Samadhi’ Is Such A Mad Book, I thought People Might Reject It|Exclusive
'Ret Samadhi' was later translated by Daisy Rockwell into 'Tomb Of Sand' which won millions of hearts worldwide, read on to know what the author has to say about the book and much more-

Author Geetanjali Shree made history when her novel, ‘Tomb Of Sand’ when it went to become the first ever Hindi novel to win the ever-so-prestigious International Booker Prize Award. The book which was first published in Hindi as ‘Ret Samadhi’ was later translated into English by the phenomenal Daisy Rockwell. With five novels, a biography of Mushi Premchand, two short stories and several accolades to her name, Shree is a distinguished name not just in the Hindi literary world but has also gone on to leave an ever-lasting impression in the Global literary spectrum as well, post the Booker Award.

Ever since the Booker Prize happened in 2022, this ace writer has been busier than ever with touring literary festivals and attending talks. In an exclusive conversation with NW18 back when she was attending the Jaipur Literature Festival, Shree revealed what her life has been like post the Booker award, her book ‘Ret Samadhi’, the realm of Hindi literature and much more.

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It has been quite some time since you received the Booker Prize award, looking back how do you think it has changed your life and the work that you do?

Every experience that we have, not just the Booker Prize, if you are a sensitive person will add some dimension to your life. So, Booker has been a great experience and it has opened up my world and has introduced me to a larger community of interactions. The world has opened up for me which is absolutely wonderful. One thing that does not sit very comfortably well with me is becoming such a public person. I am very thankful for all the recognition but in a way so many appearances and talks have started to feel like an obligation because I like to keep to myself and I like my life being private. I am happy to do all this for a short while but a writer is primarily a writer, my life is about writing so I will slowly be returning to it.

While you were writing ‘Ret Samadhi’ did you for once even think or anticipate getting the kind of love and honour that both the book and you later went on to receive?

Not really. I am absolutely not the kind of writer who thinks about the results. The world is such a mysterious place, you do not know your readers, so it is not like I have the formula that I know is going to work. Some book is going to get me certain readers and then some other book is going to get me some more, the previous set of readers might not like my new work and the newer ones might.

There is always a bit of mystery, a bit of risk about where your work is going to take you and determine who your readership is going to be, so, in a way, I am prepared with every work that I start to fail also but I try to write as honestly as I can, as sincerely as I can and try to find that soul and voice of that particular work and just work with it. The finished product then goes into the world and I am ready to take whatever might come. ‘Ret Samadhi’ is such a ‘mad’ book, I thought people might reject it.

The kind of honour that was bestowed upon you and your book directly put focus and brought into light the kind of work that is being done in contemporary Hindi literature. What do you have to say about that?

That is wonderful. I mean if you become the medium through which something like this is realised, that you belong to a rich world and you belong to India, there is much else that is happening and there is a lot of good literary work happening in our country not just in Hindi but also in other languages and it is actually happening all over South Asia. There is some very good writing that is being put out. I am very happy that I became the excuse for which attention was given to the Hindi literary spectrum and I hope more and more of this world will be discovered by people who do not have direct access to it.

A lot of times people often shy away from writing in their mother tongue or other regional languages, but you are someone who is extremely comfortable writing in Hindi. Wad that comfort always there? Why do you think people are shying away from expressing their creativity in regional languages?

To be very honest, I was. But coming to the second part of your question, we come from an ex-colonial country and there is an issue with language which is an impact of colonialism. We have a hierarchy that we live with where English enjoys magnificent compositions but other languages do not enjoy as much. Again this is not absolutely the same everywhere because there are states like Bengal, Kerala and Maharashtra where the mother tongue is valued a lot, so it is an uneven story. But by and large, the truth is, in India English is hailed higher than the rest.

However, more people are becoming aware of this situation and are slowly going back to writing in regional languages. Also, our mother tongue has a way of forcing itself through our blood so when it comes to something as intimate as creative writing then almost spontaneously we rediscover its values. I hope we come to understand the importance of our rich regional languages. We can continue to celebrate English but we also need to hold tight to the diverse regional languages around the country and works too.

What do we expect to see from you in the near future and what next is on the line for you?

More and more writing, that is what I have to do and love to do.

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