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The India Connection to Britain's Booker

November 2008
The India Connection to Britain's Booker

Three Indians have bagged the Man Booker Prize (formerly the Booker) in the last decade. Not bad at all, considering that only one India-born author—Salman Rushdie—won this literary award, perhaps the most important in the English-speaking world, in the previous three decades. Rushdie received it for Midnight’s Children in 1981, and in 1993, he won the Booker of Bookers for the same novel on the prize’s 25th anniversary. This year, on the 40th anniversary, he took home the Best of the Booker (the voting was open to the public). Again, it was for Midnight’s Children.

Aravind Adiga won this year’s $87,000 Man Booker Prize for The White Tiger, his debut novel (a review appears in this issue). The God of Small Things, for which Arundhati Roy got the prize in 1997, was also a first novel. Kiran Desai became a recipient of the Man Booker in 2006 for The Inheritance of Loss, her second novel. The White Tiger, according to the judging panel, “undertakes the extraordinarily difficult task of gaining and holding the reader’s sympathy for a thoroughgoing villain. The book gains from dealing with pressing social issues and significant global developments with astonishing humor.”

The Booker has a deeper connection to India and Indian themes through the prizewinning novels of J.G. Farrell (The Siege of Krishnapur, 1973); Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (Heat and Dust, 1975); Paul Scott (Staying On, 1977); and Yann Martel (Life of Pi, 2002). And V.S. Naipaul, who is of Indian origin, received the Booker for In a Free State in 1971.

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