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Monday, October 20, 2008

Booker Prize goes to Aravind Adiga

Hasan Suroor

Jury chairman says "The White Tiger" overwhelmed him


Aravind Adiga, the 33-year-old, Chennai-born author won the £50,000 Man Booker Prize on Tuesday for his debut novel “The White Tiger.” For someone who had just won the English-speaking world’s most important literary award, he sounded remarkably underwhelmed when asked what the moment meant to him.

“It is important to my publishers, so what’s important to them is important to me,” he said. His novel has been hailed by the judges as an “extraordinary” portrait of modern India.

To him what was more important was to get on with writing. And, yes, there would be a “second novel”, he assured an interviewer who noted that Arundhati Roy had not written another novel since she won the Booker Prize for her first book “God of Small Things” in 1997.

Adiga, the fourth Indian writer to win a Booker after Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy and Kiran Desai, was the youngest among the six shortlisted writers — Amitav Ghosh, Linda Grant, Steve Toltz, Philip Hensher, and Sebastian Berry, the bookies’ favourite. “The White Tiger’, a searing exploration of the underbelly of India’s economic boom, impressed the judges with its power to “knock your socks off,” as Chairman of the Jury Michael Portillo, the Tory politician-turned-critic, colourfully put it.

“My criteria were ‘Does it knock my socks off?’ and this one did... the others impressed me ... this one knocked my socks off,” Mr. Portillo said.

“The novel is in many ways perfect. It is quite difficult to find any structural flaws with it,” he said.

(The Hindu, 16:10:2008)




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