Booker-Prize winning author Geetanjali Shree to read at Bocas Lit Fest

Geetanjali Shree -
Geetanjali Shree -

In May 2022, when Geetanjali Shree’s novel Tomb of Sand was named the winner of that year’s International Booker Prize, it made history. It was the first novel written in a South Asian language to win the prestigious award, and Shree was the first writer from India to take home the accolade – sibling to the longer-established Booker Prize, for which only English-language books are eligible.

For Shree, it was a moment of life-changing global recognition after a long and fruitful writing career, and not just for the £50,000 award (shared with translator Daisy Rockwell), a media release said.

For contemporary Indian literature, it was an equally major breakthrough. Though Indian writers have been celebrated in international literary circles for many decades, almost all of the best known – from RK Narayan and Anita Desai to Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy – have written and published in English, even though India has 22 official languages.

Shree’s Tomb of Sand, written in Hindi, her mother tongue, is one of the few contemporary non-English Indian novels to be published in translation, much less win international acclaim.

Trinidad and Tobago audiences will have the opportunity to encounter Geetanjali Shree at the 2024 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, running from April 25-28, where she will join a stellar line-up of Caribbean and international audiences in a rich programme of events.

She will appear on April 27 at 3.30 pm, reading from Tomb of Sand and discussing her work and ideas with writer Ira Mathur, winner of the 2023 OCM Bocas Prize for Non-Fiction. The event will take place in the Old Fire Station in downtown Port of Spain, and is free and open to all.

Tomb of Sand tells the story of an 80-year-old woman – referred to only as Ma – in north India, in the aftermath of her husband’s death. Emerging from a deep depression, and contemplating her experience of Partition as a teenager, she decides to visit Pakistan, to the alarm of her daughter – a journey in which she questions the meaning of her life as woman, daughter and mother.

Though the novel often confronts issues of personal and historic trauma, the International Booker Prize judges called it “an extraordinarily exuberant and incredibly playful book,” full of linguistic ingenuity.

“Rather than respond to tragedy with seriousness,” said the prize organisers, Shree wrote a book “that is engaging, funny, and utterly original, at the same time as being an urgent and timely protest against the destructive impact of borders and boundaries, whether between religions, countries, or genders.”

In an interview published in the British magazine The White Review, Shree explained what the prize meant not just to her but to other non-Anglophone Indian writers.

“The Booker, in choosing me, has caught not just me in the light it is shining down, but the literature around me too. It is a vast literature of rich antecedents and contemporary vibrancy, and it is little known outside its own language circles.”

Her visit to the NGC Bocas Lit Fest later this month will be Shree’s first time in the Caribbean – an opportunity she expresses excitement over.

Her event is just one in a packed programme of readings and discussions that also feature such internationally celebrated and prizewinning authors as Edwidge Danticat, Dionne Brand, Rabindranath Maharaj, Christina Sharpe, Canisia Lubrin, Kayo Chongonyi, Anthony Joseph and Myriam JA Chancy.

The full festival programme is online at


"Booker-Prize winning author Geetanjali Shree to read at Bocas Lit Fest"

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