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February 16, 2023

My Rating - 4 out of 5 stars

Publisher - Penguin Books
Genre - Fiction
Publishing year - 2018
Language - English
ISBN - 978-0-143-44847-1
Pages - 735

Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree

Book Review 

Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree, translated by Daisy Rockwell, is a haunting and lyrical novel that explores the complexity of human relationships and the impact of memory on our lives. 

The book follows the story of Ma (Mother) and Beti (Daughter), who struggles to come to terms with their past and present. As they try to navigate the complexities of their relationships with their loved ones, and other people like Rosie, a transgender and close confidant of Ma; they both were forced to confront the ghosts of the past willingly or unwillingly.

Geetanjali Shree's prose is rich and textured, with a focus on imagery and metaphor that creates a vivid and immersive reading experience. She pays close attention to sensory details and inner thoughts of the characters, creating a sense of nostalgia and longing throughout the story.

The nonlinear narrative structure, which unfolds in a series of vignettes, adds to the atmospheric quality of the novel, allowing the readers to fully enter the inner world of the characters. 

The characters also are unstructured but leave a long-lasting impact. You cannot understand them fully but connect with them, often questioning their motives and feelings. They all are on a journey of validation and trying to understand what they want from life.

The author does an excellent job of exploring the complexity of identity, both personal and cultural, and how our pasts shape us. Through Ma's experiences, the author shows how the past is never really gone but instead continues to influence us in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. 

The story is melancholic and introspective, reflecting the inner turmoil of the characters, but is also hopeful, suggesting that even in the face of loss, there is still a possibility of growth and change.

In addition to Ma, Beti, and Rosie, the other characters like Bade (Elder son of Ma), Bahu (Bade's wife), Overseas Son (Bade's elder child), Sid (Bade's younger son), KK (something or someone to Beti) are also well-drawn and complex. Sometimes they all seem aloof when it comes to Ma's eccentricity, while other times they are sympathetic to her age and issues. 

The supporting characters add to the overall richness of the novel. They all have their unique personalities and struggles, which contribute to the novel's exploration of the complicatedness of human connections.

One of the strengths of the novel is how it explores the tension between the personal and the political. While the novel is primarily focused on the personal struggles of its characters, it is set against the backdrop of political turmoil and the partition of India. The author does an excellent job of weaving these broader social and political themes without detracting from the personal story at the heart of the novel.

It is a beautiful and thought-provoking novel that will stay with readers long after they have finished it. It is a testament to the power of language and storytelling as it resonates with the readers. Daisy Rockwell's translation captures the beauty and subtlety of the original text, and it is a worthy winner of the International Booker Prize 2022.

In conclusion, Tomb of Sand is a novel that deserves the accolades it has received. Geetanjali Shree has created a piece of literature that is top-notch. Thank you, Daisy Rockwell, for doing justice to the original text, your work should be commended for bringing this exceptional novel to a wider audience. 

If you're looking for a novel that is both melancholic and hopeful, introspective and insightful, then this book is a must-read.

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