First-time Indian novelist wins UK's Booker Prize

Tue Oct 14, 2008 7:30pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Debut Indian novelist Aravind Adiga on Tuesday won the Man Booker Prize, one of the world's most prestigious literary awards, with "The White Tiger."

It was only the third time in the Booker's 40-year history that a first-time writer had claimed the award, and, at 33, Adiga was also one of its youngest winners.

He received a cheque for 50,000 pounds ($88,000) at a gala dinner in London and can expect not only overnight literary fame but also a sharp rise in book sales in the runup to Christmas.

Booker organizers say last year's winner, Anne Enright, has sold around 500,000 copies of "The Gathering," largely due to the prize. The White Tiger is published by Atlantic Books.

The White Tiger follows Balram Halwai, the son of a rickshaw puller whose dream of escaping the poverty of his village takes him on a journey to the bright lights of Delhi and Bangalore, where he will do almost anything to get to the top.

"It was important for me to present someone from this colossal underclass, which is perhaps as big as 400 million, and to do so without sentimentality," Adiga told reporters after the awards ceremony.

"The book has done very well in India. It was a bestseller before this was announced. There's been a need for a book like this," he added.

Michael Portillo, chairman of the five-member judging panel, praised The White Tiger for tackling important social and political issues in modern-day India.   Continued...

<p>Man Booker Prize shortlist nominee Indian author Aravind Adiga poses with his book "The White Tiger" ahead of the announcement of the winner in central London October 14, 2008. REUTERS/Stephen Hird</p>