Reclusive Adiga wins Booker for dark tale

Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:16am EDT
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By Rina Chandran

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Aravind Adiga's Booker Prize-winning tale of the son of a rickshaw puller who dreams of escaping poverty rings true in India, where 800 million of its billion-plus population live on about 50 U.S. cents a day.

But for young, urban Indians, perhaps even more compelling is his real-life story of trying to find an apartment in Mumbai, notorious for its high rentals and finicky landlords who detest pets, meat-eaters and, in particular, says Adiga, single men.

In a widely-read column in the Guardian newspaper recently, Adiga, 33, who won the Man Booker Prize Tuesday for his debut novel "The White Tiger," wrote of the travails of a bachelor in Mumbai, or one who did not work for a big multinational or had a wife in some distant city to lend him a veneer of respect.

"Making things worse is that I describe myself as a "writer," a category that doesn't mean anything to the landlords of Mumbai," wrote Adiga, who found an apartment in a neighborhood that he did not particularly like after two weeks of hunting.

Adiga, who was born in the southern city of Chennai and grew up there and in the southwestern city of Mangalore before he emigrated with his family to Sydney, will now be able to afford a fancier pad with the 50,000-pound ($87,000) check he received Tuesday.

"This will transform his life," said Karthika V.K., chief editor of Harper Collins, which published the novel in India, speaking by phone from the book fair in Frankfurt.

It is a "powerful story of the darker side of contemporary India," Karthika said, describing Adiga as "quiet, reclusive," someone who shunned elaborate launches and public readings for the book, opting instead to do just a few interviews by e-mail.

"It was all about the book," Karthika said.   Continued...

<p>Indian author Aravind Adiga poses for photographers after winning the 2008 Man Booker Prize with his book "The White Tiger" at the Guildhall in London October 14, 2008. REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico</p>