Debut novelist Aravind Adiga was named on Tuesday the winner of the 2008 Man Booker Prize for his book The White Tiger (Atlantic). The thirty-three-year-old author, whose novel was selected by judges Alex Clark, Louise Doughty, James Heneage, Hardeep Singh Kohli, and Michael Portillo, received £50,000 (approximately $87,242).
Adiga, who was born in Madras, India, and currently resides in Mumbai, is the fifth Indian author to win the Booker Prize, following V. S. Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, and Kiran Desai. He is also the second youngest recipient of the award; Ben Okri won at age thirty-two for The Famished Road (Jonathan Cape) in 1991.
Adiga’s novel explores India’s class struggle through the story of a man who leaves village life to pursue success as an entrepreneur. According to Portillo, who chaired the judging panel, "The White Tiger prevailed because the judges felt that it shocked and entertained in equal measure."
"The novel undertakes the extraordinarily difficult task of gaining and holding the reader's sympathy for a thoroughgoing villain," Portillo said after announcing Adiga as the winner. "The book gains from dealing with pressing social issues and significant global developments with astonishing humor."
The annual prize, sponsored by the Man Group, is awarded for the best novel of the year by a citizen of the British Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland, or Zimbabwe
In other literary award news, the National Book Foundation today announced the finalists for the 59th annual National Book Awards. The finalists in poetry are Frank Bidart for Watching the Spring Festival (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Mark Doty for Fire to Fire: New and Collected Poems (HarperCollins), Reginald Gibbons for Creatures of a Day (Louisiana State University Press), Richard Howard for Without Saying (Turtle Point Press), and Patricia Smith for Blood Dazzler (Coffee House Press).
The finalists in fiction are Aleksandar Hemon for The Lazarus Project (Riverhead), Rachel Kushner for Telex from Cuba (Scribner), Peter Matthiessen for Shadow Country (Modern Library), Marilynne Robinson for Home (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), and Salvatore Scibona for The End (Graywolf Press).
The winners in the categories of poetry and fiction, as well as nonfiction and children's literature, will be announced at an awards ceremony on November 19. They will each receive ten thousand dollars; each finalist will receive a thousand dollars.