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By winning the 2022 International Booker Prize, Tomb of Sand has made history by becoming the first Hindi novel to win the prize. The book has been written by Geetanjali Shree and was translated by Daisy Rockwell into English, with both sharing the prize. The book was originally published in Hindi as Ret Samadhi, It tells the story of an 80-year-old widow who decided to travel to Pakistan and deal with the Partition trauma.

The book has now joined the list of women’s voices in Partition literature that talks about the great migration and its human cost.

What is Partition literature all about?

In 1947, the partition resulted in the creation of India and Pakistan, wherein Pakistan later was partitioned in 1971 with East Pakistan which became Bangladesh, which remains the subcontinent’s most traumatic historical event where millions got displaced and estimates suggest that more than a million lost their lives.

Basically, partition literature refers to writing and exploring the event from both sides of the border which include both fictional and non-fictional narratives. In today’s time, Partition literature is studied in some universities via related texts in specific or other papers.

What is the relevance of Partition literature?

The partition of August 1947 has its repercussions as it uprooted and impacted millions of lives of people from different regions like Punjab, Sindh to Tripua, Bengal and Delhi, among others that are felt till this day. Based on the social and economic positions, different communities were impacted in different ways in society, irrespective of religion and gender.

Partition literature helps in bringing forth the many truths that were involved from marginalised perspectives.

How are women’s voices in Partition so important?

Until the 1990s, the partition literature was largely dominated by male writers and fiction that spoke about the women’s experience was also gazed thought men like Narendranath Mitra’s novel Jaiba (The Biological) and Saadat Hasan Manto’s short story “Khol Do” (“Open It”).

It’s not that women had not been written up till then as there were novels like Jyotirmoyee Devi’s Epar Ganga Opar Ganga (1968), which involves forced conversions, sexual violence and much more.

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