Delhi-based writer Geetanjali Shree made history in 2019 by winning the International Booker Prize for her Hindi book ‘Ret Samadhi’.

The book was later translated into English by Daisy Rockwell and called ‘Tomb of Sand’.

The judges described Geetanjali’s work as “an urgent yet engaging protest against the destructive impact of borders, whether between religions, countries, or genders”.

The book narrates the journey of an 80-year-old woman who slips into depression after her husband’s death and then resurfaces to gain a new lease on life.

Besides Tomb of Sand, Geetanjali has four novels — Mai, Hamara Shahar Us Baras, Tirohit and Khali Jagah — to her credit. She also has several short stories to her credit. Her writings have been translated into languages like English, French, German, Serbian, and Korean.

Born in Mainpuri, Uttar Pradesh, and raised by a bureaucrat who was also a writer, there was always an atmosphere of reading in Geetanjali’s home.

“I grew up in Allahabad and had the chance to interact with many of the well-known writers of that time. Sumitranandan Pant, Firaq Gorakhpuri, Mahadevi Verma and so many more prolific Hindi and Urdu writers,” she says.

Talking about her writing process, Geetanjali says, “When I started writing, I was very diligent. I would start my work at 9.30 am and would try and sit with the writing until almost 5 pm.”

She continues, “This does not necessarily mean I was writing every day, but I was in that space that allowed me to think and process at my own pace.”

While she was able to stick to this routine for a long while, she says once her work was published it started to get difficult.

She had to attend meetings and events, which changed her routine and led her to take more breaks.

On working with Daisy, Geetanjali says, “While we were introduced via e-mail and I have never met Daisy physically, it has been a smooth working relationship with her.”

Geetanjali takes her mother’s first name, ‘Shree’ Kumari Pandey, in place of a surname.

“Geetanjali’s writing will make you feel comfortable. There is a sort of thehraav (a certain kind of quiet) in her words. She writes with a sense of ease and can bring out the mundane and routine everyday life so beautifully in her writing,” says the proud mother about her daughter’s writing.