Thirty-five-year-old novelist Kiran Desai yesterday won the 2006 Booker Prize for The Inheritance of Loss (Hamish Hamilton). Desai, who was born in India, moved to England when she was fifteen, and is currently a student in the creative writing program at Columbia University in New York City, is the youngest woman to win the competition in its thirty-eight-year history. She received £50,000 (approximately $92,685). The prize, sponsored by the Man Group investment company, is given for the best novel of the year by a citizen of the British Commonwealth or Ireland. The judges were Simon Armitage, Hermione Lee, Candia McWilliam, Anthony Quinn, and Fiona Shaw.
Desai is the daughter of fiction writer Anita Desai, who has been named a Booker Prize semifinalist three times since 1980. They are the first mother-daughter nominees in the history of the prize. While British novelist Sarah Waters was favored to win for The Night Watch (Virago), British oddsmakers had reported an increase in last-minute bets for Desai.