After an "emotionally draining" and closely fought final judging session, India's Aravind Adiga, one of the two debut novelists on the Man Booker shortlist, was on Tuesday night awarded the 50,000 prize for his The White Tiger, a bracingly modern novel about the dark side of the new India.
Adiga, 33, is a surprise winner. He is the fourth first-time novelist to win the prize. Adiga was born in Chennai in 1974 and was raised partly in Mangalore and Australia.
Michael Portillo, the chair of the judges, said: “What set it apart was its originality. The feeling was that this was new territory... And it is extremely readable.”
“I would like to dedicate this award to the people of New Delhi,” Adiga said on accepting the prize, adding that 300 years ago it was the most important city on Earth and could become so again.
Portillo compared the novel with Macbeth: “Whereas Lady Macbeth and Macbeth are driven mad by their crime, the hero of this book is only driven mad by the fact that he hesitated and might not have committed his crime.”
The White Tiger takes a sharp and unblinking look at the reality of India’s economic miracle. The protagonist Balram Halwai is a cocksure, uneducated young man, the son of an impoverished rickshaw driver.
By lying, betraying and using his sharp intelligence, Balram makes his ascent into the heady heights of Bangalore’s big business.
The writing of the novel, said Adiga, had come out of his career as a journalist, and his encounters — as a relatively privileged middle-class man — with members of India’s underclass.
He observes: “Something extraordinary is happening between the rich and the poor. Once, there was at least a common culture between rich and poor, but that has been eroded, and people have noted that.”
Asked what he would do with the money, he said: “The first thing is to find a bank I can put it in!”
Having studied at Columbia and Oxford universities, Adiga became a journalist, and has written for Time magazine and many British newspapers. He lives in Mumbai.
Misleading title : Surely Bangalore does not need to sustain its self image by claiming as it's own a booker won by an Indian, born in Chennai, living in Mumbai, writing about New Delhi but your headline reads 'KannAdiga wins Booker !'. It is great news anyway and we would read the article anyway as the Booker prize is indeed something to write home about. Lets not pander after some 5th or 7th generation linkup who might have set foot on soil now belonging to Karnataka. Surely we are thrilled.