If any book deserved to be labelled as epic, it must be Geetanjali Shree’s Tomb of Sand , translated by Daisy Rockwell. The novel eludes all definitions and expectations; it’s a celebration of language and art of both writing and translation. There is no clear logical structure to the story, no chronological order, the narration takes turns and jumps in time, and the reader is taken along on an incredible journey where each and every sentence is beautful and breathtaking.
I was afraid of this book’s gradiosity, given it’s lenght and the ambitious writing style. I was afraid I would not be able to get into it or get confused. But it turned out I was wrong – it felt like floating through a dream, like a tale shared by several people at the table, their words intertwining as they remember one thing or another, supplement and complement each other. We have three guides here: Shree, Rockwell, and the main character who decides to face the past, which until now has been covered with scars of untreated trauma. It’s a tale of a particular family, but also a grand episode in history – the partition of India in 1947, a catastrophic event which influences the Indian subcontinent even today.
It’s a tale of the meaning of womanhood. But above all – abot borders. About blurring them, about crossing them, moving them, bending them. Borders on maps as well as in our heads. Social barriers. Stereotypes, trauma. It is a book through which we swim with easy – even when its current changes course every now and then. But the chaos is deliberate, because even when the plot suddenly turns in a new direction, we are carried ahead by the power of literature. Words here are both the background and the tool, and to some extent – the main character of this book.
Celebration of literature and the magic of language, Tomb of Sand is an remarkable book on many levels.