‘It’s the best way to live!’: International Booker winners Geetanjali Shree and Daisy Rockwell

The Indian novelist and her translator scooped the £50,000 prize with Tomb of Sand, a novel about death – but with laughs. The morning after their triumph they talk about fun, feminism and famous ancestors

“If you handle a heavy thing with lightness, you actually increase the poignancy, and it puts a different kind of focus on it.” Geetanjali Shree is talking to me about her novel Tomb of Sand, which, in its translation from Hindi by Daisy Rockwell, won the International Booker prize on Thursday. It’s now early Friday morning and Shree and Rockwell join me from London’s Groucho Club – bright, fresh and talkative despite the night’s festivities (Rockwell was still tweeting about it at 2am).

Shree has been writing for more than 30 years, and three of her previous books have been translated into English. Why did this one strike such a chord with readers and judges? “I think it speaks to the pluralism of the world, the polyphony of the world, and that somehow captures the imagination of people. I also think there’s a lot of inventiveness in the language, which seems to have appealed.”

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