Home Enthusiast geetanjali shree: Beyond Booker: Geetanjali Shree, a history scholar, is a theater enthusiast and loves vintage Hindi film music

geetanjali shree: Beyond Booker: Geetanjali Shree, a history scholar, is a theater enthusiast and loves vintage Hindi film music

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Geetanjali Shree who made his mark in Hindi literature with his first collection of short stories “Anugoonj” in 1991 now finds himself in the international spotlight as his Hindi novel, “Ret Samadhi” translated into English as “Tomb of Sand” by Daisy Rockwell wins the International Booker Prize. It’s the first Hindi book to win the prestigious award, and as Shree picks up her first international win, here’s an intimate look at the Delhi-based writer’s reading preferences and writing inspirations.

A doctor of history, the 64-year-old has five collections of short stories and five novels published to date. She is also active in theater and works with Vivadi, a theater troupe made up of writers, artists, dancers and painters.

In an interview at
Bookerprize.com, the author said that many literary works inspired her to write. “I can talk about writers who have enriched my being and made me discover different ways of telling history. Krishna Sobti showed me the importance of the smell of the earth, the cadence of language and the pure materiality of the description which makes the narration of life vibrate; Nirmal Verma pretty much got rid of the vaunted necessity of dialogue in his writing, and let the atmosphere take over, thus creating another breath in the writing; Intizar Hussain enriched my imagination with his very “oriental” way of telling a story within a story within a story and mixing epic, folk tale and mythology with the contemporary and the everyday; KB Vaid thrilled me with his risky and daring games with form and language; Sri Lal Shukl with sardonic humor colored the personal with the political; Vinod Kumar Shukla gave the mundane a slightly oblique gait, thereby drawing attention to things and people forgotten or taken for granted,” said Booker’s winner.

The author said that apart from Hindi, several international authors continued to enrich “his imagination and sharpen his literary awareness” and named the literary giants like Coetzee, Dostoyevsky, Haldor Laxness, Hemingway, Garcia Marquez, Kundera, Borghes, Osamu Dazai, Alice Munroe, Tanizaki, Unamuno, and Gao Xingjian as inspiration.

A fan of vintage Bollywood music, the author’s earliest reading memory is of the heartwarming tales of “The Panchatantra” and “Chandamama” children’s magazines.

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In the same interview, Shree said “Mahabharata” is the book that changed her life. “It is not for nothing that it is said to contain everything. All the possible stories, all the possible ways to tell them, they are all there. He is bold, wise, crazy, human and clairvoyant. Always disturbing and inspiring,” the author said of the epic.

Currently, his book ‘Ret Samadhi’ is being talked about. The story of the novel is set in northern India and follows an 80-year-old woman. Speaking about where the idea for the story came from, the author said: “In the case of ‘Tomb of Sand’, the image of the back of an old bedridden woman, who seemed to no longer care live and pushed deeper into the wall, as if to bury herself in it, gradually took hold of me. This aroused my curiosity: is she really tired of life and the world and does she turn the back, or is she slowly preparing for a new and different round of life?When she seems to want to disappear into the wall, does she want the end or does she really want to burrow in and come out the other side ?