Booker Prize winners with an Indian Connection

October 14, 2013

Since it began in 1969, the Man Booker Prize has attained a stature such that its winner is generally assured of international renown and success. Thought it has faced its share of controversies, it remains one of the most watched literary prizes ever. This year, the announcement that the prize will be open to US authors from the next year, has resulted in a storm of controversy.

Here are some of those prize winning books which have a ‘Desi’ flavour; Indian Booker Prize winners as well as those that are set in India, or centre around Indian protagonists.

In a Free State

in a Free State by V S Naipaul

Author: V. S. Naipaul
Publisher: Deutsch
Year: 1971
ISBN: 9781400030552
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The book is composed of three short stories. The first story is about a servant from Bombay who embarks on a diplomatic mission to Washington D.C. where both he and his master suffer abominably from the poor value of Indian Currency. The second tale is about a dysfunctional West Indian family and the third story is about African Great Lakes that has recently acquired independence.

The Siege of Krishnapur

The Siege of Krishnapur by JG Farrell

Author: J.G. Farrell
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Year: 1973
ISBN: 9781590170922
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This book depicts the convoluted events of 1857 when Muslim soldiers turned in rebellion on their British overlords. The novel gained positive reviews from various sources and many critics still consider it a masterpiece and work of imaginative intensity.

Heat and Dust

Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

Author: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Publisher: Harper and Row
Year: 1975
ISBN: 9780194792271
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The book is about an Englishwoman who travels to India to find out more about her step-grandmother, Olivia. She discovers that Olivia, who was married to an English officer, felt smothered by British restrictions, fell in love with an Indian Nawab and eloped with him, remaining in an unnamed town for the rest of her life after causing a scandal in the British community in the town of Satipur.

Staying On

Staying On by Paul Scott

Author: Paul Scott
Publisher: Heinemann
Year: 1977
ISBN: 9780099443193
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The story is set in independent India. Tusker and Lucy Smalley are the last British couple living in a small hill town of Pankot , where they are surrounded by its eccentric inhabitants and a tyrannical landlady. Both funny and deeply moving, Staying On is a unique, engrossing portrait of the end of an empire and of a forty-year love affair.

Midnight’s Children

Midnight's Children

Author: Salman Rushdie
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Year: 1981
ISBN: 9780099578512
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The book is considered a loose allegory which deals with India’s transition from British colonialism to independence and the partition of India. The novel is divided into three parts and has a multitude of named characters that were born on the midnight of India’s independence. Recently, this book was made into a movie, and Rushdie himself composed the screenplay.

The God of Small Things

The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

Author: Arundhati Roy
Publisher: Flamingo
Year: 1997
ISBN: 9780679457312
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Set in the late 1960’s Kerala, the book portrays the story of fraternal twins who are witnessing the gradual unraveling of their own family. The book is a description of how small things can impact lives and feelings of people. While generally praised, the book did receive some criticism for its verbosity and controversial themes of Forbidden Love and Social Discrimination.

The Inheritance of Loss

Inheritance Of Loss by Kiran Desai
Author: Kiran Desai
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
Year: 2006
ISBN: 9780802142818
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Set in 1986, the story is centered on two main characters Biju, an illegal Indian immigrant in the US who is trying to make a new life and Sai, an anglicised Indian girl living in Kalimpong with her grandfather. The major themes of the book are consequences of colonialism, living between two worlds and migration.

The White Tiger

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Author: Aravind Adiga
Publisher: HarperCollins
Year: 2008
ISBN: 9781416562597
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The book in its darkly humourous and cynical tone deals with topics such as Globalization, Individualism, Immoral Corruption and Freedom, told through the retrospective narration of Balram Halwai, a village boy who escaped a life of servitude to become a successful businessman. In Adiga’s own words his novel “attempt[s] to catch the voice of the men you meet as you travel through India — the voice of the colossal underclass.” Read the review of his next book Last Man in Tower.

Other shortlisted books by Indian authors: Clear Light of Day by Anita Desai (1980), Shame by Salman Rushdie (1983), In Custody by Anita Desai (1984), The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (1988), Such a Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry (1991), The Moor’s Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie (1995), A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (1996) , Fasting Feasting by Anita Desai (1999), Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry (2002), Animal’s People by Indra Sinha (2007), Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh (2008).

Aditya Patidar

Writer at IndiaBookStore
Voracious Reader, Movie Buff, Massive Manchester United Fan, Linux Enthusiast, Comic Book Nerd. And a self-proclaimed intellectual on top of that!

One Comment

  • Srinivas November 3, 2013 at 8:13 AM

    Indians are always the storng contenders for Booker Prize

    You missed Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis which is shortlisted in 2012

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