The award for the best English novel by a writer from any country except America goes to… an Indian for the second time in three years!
Aravind Adiga has won the 2008 Man Booker Prize worth 50,000 pounds ($87,000) for Commonwealth writers for his novel, The White Tiger, set in India. Indian Kiran Desai won the award for The Inheritance of Loss, spanning India and America, in 2006. Irish Anne Enright was the winner last year for The Gathering.
Adiga, 33, who read English literature at Columbia and Oxford and writes for Time magazine, lives in Mumbai.The White Tiger, about corruption, poverty and exploitation in India, is his first novel. Links to his Time articles appear at the end of this post.
“Adiga is the fifth Indian author to win the prize, joining VS Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy and Kiran Desai, who won the prize in 1971, 1981, 1997 and 2006 respectively,” notes the Man Booker website. Roy also won with her first novel, The God of Small Things.
The only other debut novelist to win the prize was the Australian DBC Pierre in 2003 for Vernon God Little.
Adiga is the second-youngest novelist to win the award and cites the black American writers Ralph Ellison and James Baldwin as influences, says The Times.
About The White Tiger
Adiga also admires the Indian writer RK Narayan, he said in a Rediff interview, where he said he started writing the book based on his experiences as a Time magazine correspondent in India. He was struck by the vast gulf between the rich and the poor — and the fact that, despite the huge poverty, there was “so little crime in India compared to that in New York, South Africa and Latin America”.
The White Tiger is a clever, dark, unusual novel where:
- The narrator is a killer — a servant cum chauffeur who has murdered his employer;
- He is writing about the murder to the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao before the latter’s state visit to India;
- He is explaining how he rose from rags to riches by killing his employer and taking his money to become an entrepreneur in Bangalore.
It’s a satire where the author makes us look at life from the killer’s perspective. The poverty and exploitation he has suffered are described in excruciating detail.The murder scene is bone-chilling.
Here are some of Adiga’s articles which appeared in Time: Mystical Mischief in New York, The Burden of Inflation, The Death of an Indian Dream, Welcome to the Jungle, Desert Blossom, For God and Empire.