Indian author Aravind Adiga has been given the 2008 Man Booker prize for The White Tiger, his first-ever novel. A former writer for Time magazine, Adiga, 33, is the second-youngest author ever to win the award, a distinction made even more poignant by his premature baldness. Tiger, about a young chauffeur who rails against India’s social hierarchy by murdering his employer, won “because the judges felt that it shocked and entertained in equal measure,” according to the chairman of the selection committee. Accepting the award, which carries an $86,000 cash prize, Adiga said, “The first thing I am going to do is to find a bank that I can actually put it in.”
The White Tiger beat out heavily favored finalist Secret Scripture, by Sebastian Barry, as well as Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland and Salman Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence, once-favorites that failed to make the short list. Critic John Sutherland had previously promised to eat his copy of Rushdie’s book if it didn’t win, but he since reneged, making Adiga’s victory a hollow one.