Booker International Longlist 2022 – Tomb of Sand
Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree Translated by Daisy Rockwell
Reviewed by Tracy & Rachel
Synopsis from Booker Prize website: An urgent yet engaging protest against the destructive impact of borders, whether between religions, countries or genders. Translated by Daisy Rockwell.
In northern India, an 80-year-old woman slips into a deep depression at the death of her husband, then resurfaces to gain a new lease of life. Her determination to fly in the face of convention confuses her bohemian daughter, who is used to thinking of herself as the more ‘modern’ of the two. To her family’s consternation, Ma then insists on travelling to Pakistan, confronting the unresolved trauma of her teenage experiences of Partition. Despite its serious themes, Geetanjali Shree’s light touch and exuberant wordplay ensures that Tomb of Sand remains constantly playful – and utterly original.
Rachel’s Thoughts: This is a joy. The playfulness of the language, the love and bickering of the family, and the personalities of random inanimate objects – chrysanthemums, walls, doors, sunshine – make this unlike anything I’ve ever read before. I’ve particularly enjoyed this year’s longlist focus on ageing parents, and their changing relationships with their children.
Full disclosure: I am still reading this – so it may all go downhill from here. However, my enjoyment of the book is less to do with plot, and lots to do with the language, the unusual viewpoints and the family dynamics. I don’t imagine that will change too much.
Writing quality: 5/5
Character development: 3.5/4
Plot development: 3/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Tracy’s Thoughts: Again, a book that others loved, and I just couldn’t.
When I started reading, I felt like this was Rushdie fan fiction. Then I remembered reading books by Desani and the incredible Animal’s People by Sinha, and some of the Hindu epics, like the Bhagavad Gita. This is how many Indians tell their stories.
I laughed at some of the sections, and I enjoyed getting lost in some others. But by the time I was done, I circled back to my first thought too many times. I think the author was trying too hard, maybe. This is a pretty long book, after all. It almost felt like Tristram Shandy, and I got frustrated with that book, too.
Another book I should maybe revisit at another date, when I’m not in as much of a hurry to get the longlist done. And then I’ll break it down into smaller bites.
Writing quality: 4/5
Character development: 3/4
Plot development: 3/4
Overall enjoyment: 1/2
Elena Knows 18.25
Books of Jacob 18.25
Tomb of Sand 16.25
Happy Stories, Mostly 16
The Book of Mother 16
Love in the big City 15.75
More Than I Love Myself 15.75
After the Sun 11.33
Have you read this one? Let us know your thoughts