LONDON: Indian-origin writer Kiran Desai has scooped the 50,000 pound Man Booker Prize with her second novel, The Inheritance of Loss' , a story rich with sadness about globalisation and with joy at the small surviving intimacies of Indian village life.
The 35-year-old author, daughter of well-known Indian novelist Anita Desai -- to whom The Inheritance of Loss is dedicated -- is the youngest woman to win the award, eclipsing the works of five other short-listed authors. “I didn't expect to win. I don't have a speech. My mother told me I must wear a sari... A family heirloom, but it's completely transparent,” Desai, said, while accepting the award at a ceremony at the Guildhall in London, Tuesday night.
After thanking her publisher, editor and agent, the student of creative writing at Columbia University in America added: I'm Indian and so I’m going to thank my parents. “To my mother I owe a debt so profound and so great, that this book feels as much hers as it is does mine. It was written in her company and in her wisdom and kindness in cold winters in her house... One minute isn't enough to convey it,” she said, after accepting the prize.
It is in sharp contrast to her mother's 40 years of writing experience. The elder Desai has won five different awards and written 14 novels three of which have been nominated for the Booker, the last in 1999. One was turned into the Merchant Ivory film In Custody . Desai came to live in England as a teenager for a year before moving to America.
The novel, which took eight years to write, draws on her experience of leaving India. It is set in the north-eastern Himalayas and New York, and is about an embittered old judge who wants to retire in peace. It interweaves his story with that of his orphaned teenage granddaughter, his cook and his dog.
Desai beat five other authors, including favourite Sarah Waters to win the 50,000-pound award. The other five books which had made it to the shortlist were Kate Grenville's The Secret River , M J Hyland's Carry Me Down , Hisham Matar's In the Country of Men , Edward St Aubyn's Mother's Milk and Sarah Waters's The Night Watch .
The Booker Prize is one of the most prestigious prizes in literature which aims to reward the best writing published in Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth. It has a prize of 50,000 pounds as well as the 2,500 pounds awarded to each of the six short listed authors.