Epic ... An engrossing fable about an octogenarian's liberation from her decades-long roles as wife and mother ... Shree scrupulously examines the demarcation between life and death, mother and daughter, past and present, and how grief and memory, when harnessed, have the power to cultivate long lost connections. The narrator's witty observations and lengthy humorous asides...add to the breadth and depth of this rich novel ... For the reader who wades in Shree's luminous prose, the book's threads braid into a single, vivid tapestry.
Rhymes and puns and other wordplay abound, lending a feeling of spritzy frivolity to an otherwise long and death-haunted tale ... While the prize-winning and acclaim make for a terrific success story, I wish I could muster more enthusiasm for the novel itself. But too much of its burbling lyricism feels insubstantial, like a glass of beer that’s mostly froth ... No doubt the digressions and embroideries are part of this novel’s rejection of borders. It will wander as its whim takes it, and if its voice appeals to you, you won’t regret its rambles.
Meandering ... Reading the English translation of Shree’s novel is, at times, like wading through a sandstorm ... Even for a reader familiar with Indian culture and Hindi, extricating oneself from the novel’s many tangents — rife with platitudes that are irrelevant at best and pontificating at worst — proves difficult. The rambling plot and vast range of characters, often identified only by their title in relation to Ma...risk losing readers ... Rockwell aims to mimic the dhwani in the English translation, tossing phrases like 'fume fume fume,' “'ove-shove,' and 'sputtering stuttering' onto a single page. But the effort can sometimes read as sophomoric, even silly ... For her part, Shree is cut from a different cloth, unabashedly paving her own path through the sandstorm of writers pining for Western acclaim. Rockwell aims to keep up, but 'translation is a tricky business.'
The fun lies in the novel’s linguistic exuberance: puns, comma-less disquisitions, alliteration, double entendre, euphony ... A social-realist comedy about the strain on a family when an elderly member is confined to bed or, when out of it, suffers falls and mystery ailments. But fantastical elements complicate the texture, along with lengthy pauses from the main narrative.
Shree is an excellent observer of women’s inner lives ... I find the translation to be excessively loyal to the Hindi version ... You can hear the Hindi and the English is broken. It is confusing and can make it appear as if the writer is ridiculing the Hindi characters ... Let me take this space to recognise Shree for the labour of writing itself, and for solving the difficulties of sentences, paragraphs, tone and characters for 30 years. She is a prose stylist trying to make her point in Hindi. This book, this Booker, has come at last, and for me it has come as a breath of fresh air.
Geetanjali Shree presents us with an iconoclastic, taboo-destroying eighty-year-old protagonist, destined to challenge one of her ancient culture’s central premisses ... There is a palpable freshness to Shree’s world-building ... In its boldness and experimentation – and in its likelihood of influencing a new generation of authors – this breakthrough novel recalls Shree’s fellow Indian-born Booker laureates ... Thoroughly deserves its Booker triumph.
Plays extensively with narrative and language, and challenges more than few of their usual bounds. This also presents a considerable challenge in translation ... The playfulness, which includes a liberal if carefully dosed use of Indian-language words and phrases, works well ... It is a contemporary work—also in its references and setting—that nevertheless has a timeless feel.
An exuberant translation ... Readers must set aside their fears. Shree’s buoyant sentences draw you into a novel that is both richly domestic and universal. A chorus of voices compete to tell you the story — instead of a conventional plot, the novel reveals old family secrets through a series of digressions — and even the doors, the walls, the birds and crows join in at different points. Some chapters are as short as a crisply ironed sentence, and some sentences as broad and meandering as a river ... A playful but serious novel ... This joyful novel is a big book in every way — a triumph of literature, but also balm and solace to anyone whose life has been scarred by a border that became a forbidding wall.
Concerned with the notion of boundaries and borders, whether it be the simple crossing of a domestic threshold, the instability of gender or the fervent wish of the central character that national borders be meeting places rather than areas of divisive demarcation ... In a year when the judges of the International Booker prize chose, by common consensus, a very strong long and shortlist, the 2022 winner needed to be a book of exceptional quality. In choosing Tomb of Sand, they awarded the prize to just such a book.
Ma’s story takes flight with sensual beauty and utterances of wonder-filled wisdom. She journeys through the quotidian indignities of old age; she is lost, found, and hospitalized. Ma also journeys through the complicated mire of personal domestic drama. Ma’s final journey is a flight abroad. The gorgeous writing is fluid and poetic, yet it is also plain and arresting ... Readers of international literature, award-list titles, and literary fiction will cherish Shree’s written intricacies of interior worlds as well as her detailed settings that evoke a strong sense of place.
Shree drops us into the deep waters of her expansive stream-of-consciousness novel ... This is a novel that rewards patience and leisurely reading ... Not a simple, linear book. It requires attention, and unless you’re fluent in Hindi, you can expect to be Googling some passages. But if you can strap yourself in, you’ll find yourself taken for an enchanting ride.
This ambitious novel is something of a behemoth, upending and redefining concepts of modernity, boundaries, gender, colonialism, and the India-Pakistan Partition ... Shree is occasionally prone to a didacticism that isn’t quite as mind-blowing as she might have intended ... Shree’s larger project is truly admirable: an utterly unique novel that redefines its own boundaries even as it unfolds ... Shree's experimental novel doesn’t always succeed—but even when it fails, it fails in a compelling way.
Alluring ... The leisurely pacing and drawn-out accounts from the various characters make for a slow burn, but Rockwell does a lovely job preserving the Hindi wordplay in Shree’s kaleidoscopic epic. This is worth signing up for the long haul.