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Geetanjali Shree Biography – A Hindi novelist won the International Booker Prize

Geetanjali Shree, also known as Geetanjali Pandey, is a Hindi novelist and short-story writer based in New Delhi, India. She is the author of several short stories and five novels.

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Real Name: Geetanjali Shree
Profession: Hindi novelist and short-story writer
Birthplace: Mainpuri, India
Husband: Sudhir Chandra
Age: 64

Geetanjali Shree (Hindi: गीतांजलि श्री; born 12 June 1957), also known as Geetanjali Pandey, is a Hindi novelist and short-story writer based in New Delhi, India. She is the author of several short stories and five novels. Her 2000 novel Mai was shortlisted for the Crossword Book Award in 2001. and its English translation by Nita Kumar was published by Niyogi Books in 2017. In 2022, her novel Ret Samadhi (2018), translated into English as Tomb of Sand by Daisy Rockwell, won the International Booker Prize. Aside from fiction, she has written critical works on Premchand.

Geetanjali Shree Biography
Geetanjali Shree Biography
Geetanjali Shree Biography
Born Geetanjali Pandey
12 June 1957 (age 64)
Mainpuri
Language Hindi
Nationality Indian
Genre Novels, short stories
Notable works Tomb of Sand
Notable awards International Booker Prize (2022)

Personal life

Geetanjali was born in the city of Mainpuri in Uttar Pradesh state. As her father Anirudh Pandey was a civil servant, her family lived in various towns of Uttar Pradesh. Anirudh Pandey worked as Allahabad DM. She claims this upbringing in Uttar Pradesh, along with a lack of English children’s books, gave her a rich connection to Hindi. She is ancestrally from Ghazipur District, Gondaur village.

At university, she studied history. She completed a BA at Lady Shri Ram College. She has done her master’s from JNU. After beginning her Ph.D. work at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda on the writer Premchand, she became more interested in Hindi literature. She wrote her first short story during her Ph.D. and turned to write after graduation.

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Geetanjali Shree with her Mother
Geetanjali Shree with her Mother

Works

Her first story, “Bel Patra” (1987), was published in the literary magazine Hans and was followed by a collection of short stories by Anugoonj (1991).

The English translation of her novel Mai catapulted her to fame. The novel is about three generations of women and the men around them, in a North Indian middle-class family. Mai has been translated into several languages, including Serbian and Korean. It has also been translated into English by Nita Kumar, awarded the Sahitya Akademi Translation Prize, and Urdu by Bashir Unwan with a preface by Intizar Hussain. Other translations of the novel include French by Annie Montaut and German by Reinhold Schein.

Shree’s second novel Hamara Shahar Us Baras is set loosely after the incidents of the Babri Masjid demolition.

Her fourth novel, Khālī jagah (2006), has been translated into English (by Nivedita Menon as The Empty Space), French (by Nicola Pozza as Une place vide), and German (by Georg Lechner and Nivedita Menon as Im leeren Raum).

Her fifth novel, Ret Samadhi (2018), has been commended by Alka Saraogi for “its sweeping imagination and sheer power of language, unprecedented and uninhibited”. It has been translated into English by Daisy Rockwell as Tomb of Sand, and into French by Annie Montaut as Au-delà de la frontière. On 26 May 2022, Tomb of Sand won the International Booker Prize, becoming the first book in Hindi and the first from an Indian writer to receive the accolade.

Academic publications

  • Between Two Worlds: An Intellectual Biography of Premchand
  • “Premchand and Industrialism: A Study in Attitudinal Ambivalence”, The Indian Economic and Social History Review, XIX(2), 1982
  • “Premchand and the Peasantry: Constrained Radicalism”, Economic and Political Weekly, XVIII(26), 25 June 1983.
  • “The North Indian Intelligentsia and the Hindu-Muslim Question”
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Awards and honors

Geetanjali Shree is the recipient of the Indu Sharma Katha Samman award and has been a fellow of the Ministry of Culture, India, and Japan Foundation. She also participates in theatre and works with Vivadi, a theatre group comprising writers, artists, dancers, and painters. In 2022, Tomb of Sand became the first Hindi-language novel shortlisted for the International Booker Prize and subsequently won the prize.

Explanatory notes

Her birth name is Geetanjali Pandey, but she took her mother’s first name Shree as her last name.

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