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Man Booker Prize goes to Aravind Adiga for 'The White Tiger'

October 14, 2008 |  2:51 pm

Aravindadiga_1014 Indian author Aravind Adiga has won the 40th annual Man Booker Prize for his debut novel, "The White Tiger," it was announced today at the awards ceremony in London.

The book is described on the Man Booker Prize site as "a 'compelling, angry and darkly humorous' novel about a man's journey from Indian village life to entrepreneurial success. It was described by one reviewer as an 'unadorned portrait' of India seen 'from the bottom of the heap.' " In a Q&A on the site, Adiga talked about the inspiration for "The White Tiger":

The novel began as an experiment of a kind. Visitors to India from South Africa or Latin America often asked me why there seemed to be so little crime in India, given the vast (and growing) disparity in wealth between the classes -- a condition that had led to much higher levels of crime in their countries. Why was it, I began to wonder, that even though rich people in India keep so many servants, and the servants have such regular and intimate access to their master's households, that the servants in India, by and large, stay so honest? What keeps the class system in place -- and what are the conditions under which it might start to crumble? I began to think of a servant in Delhi who would, cold-bloodedly, steal from his master -- and do something even worse to him. And imagining what that servant would think, and feel, and do, I began making notes that turned into this novel.

Now in its 40th year, the Man Booker Prize is awarded to an original full-length novel, written in English by a citizen of the British Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland,  and published during the eligible year. Adiga is the fifth Indian novelist to win the award; he is only the third novelist to win for a first book.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo credit: Leon Neal, AFP/Getty Images