Aravind Adiga Wins Literature's Man Booker Prize

The Associated Press
Tuesday, October 14, 2008; 5:37 PM

LONDON -- Aravind Adiga has won the prestigious Man Booker prize for his first novel.

Adiga's novel "The White Tiger" features a protagonist who will use any means necessary to fulfill his dream of escaping impoverished village life for success in the big city.

The judges also praised the book's humor. The 34-year-old Adiga is the youngest of the finalists for the prize.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

LONDON (AP) _ Irish writer Sebastian Barry was the bookies' favorite Tuesday in a wide-open field of finalists for the prestigious Man Booker prize for fiction.

Barry's "The Secret Scripture," a story of misery, memories and secrets in 1930s Ireland, was 5/2 front-runner among six contenders for the award, according to bookmakers William Hill. Rival bookies Ladbrokes had Barry as 2/1 front-runner.

Both firms had Indian writer Amitav Ghosh as second-favorite for "Sea of Poppies." The winner will be announced late Tuesday.

The 50,000 pound (US$88,000) prize is among the world's highest-profile literary awards, open to novels in English by writers from Britain, Ireland or the Commonwealth of former British colonies. Winning brings a big boost in profile, and usually in sales.

Playwright and novelist Barry was previously nominated in 2005 for "A Long Long Way." Victory would make him the third Irish winner in four years. The 2005 prize went to John Banville for the "The Sea," and last year's winner was Ireland's Anne Enright for "The Gathering." The 2006 winner was India's Kiran Desai for "The Inheritance of Loss."

This year's Booker shortlist lacks the star power and household names of some previous contests.

Few of the six shortlisted authors are household names, and two are first-time authors: Indian novelist Aravind Adiga, nominated for "The White Tiger" _ the story of a man's dreams of escaping poor village life for success in the big city _ and Australia's Steve Toltz, shortlisted for sprawling father-son saga "A Fraction of the Whole."

Two English authors are also in the running _ Linda Grant for "The Clothes on Their Backs" and Philip Hensher for "The Northern Clemency."

Among those snubbed by the judging panel was Salman Rushdie, who was on the prize's 13-book long-list for the "Enchantress of Florence." In July, Rushdie was named the greatest-ever winner of the literary prize for "Midnight's Children," which took the Booker in 1981.

Graham Sharpe, Booker expert at bookies William Hill, said the judges' decision to omit another highly praised book, Joseph O'Neill's post-9/11 New York saga "Netherland," from the shortlist was inexplicable.

"It's certainly not a vintage year either for the quality of the books or the gambling on the outcome," Sharpe said. "You haven't got the big names, the controversy _ anything to spark a flame of interest in the shortlist."

William Hill put 7/2 odds on Ghosh and Grant, followed by Toltz at 9/2. Adiga and Hensher were both 5/1 outsiders.

The award was founded in 1969 and was long known as the Booker Prize. It was renamed when the financial services conglomerate Man Group PLC began sponsoring it five years ago.


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