India's Kiran Desai wins Booker Prize for "The Inheritance of Loss"

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The 2006 Man Booker Prize was awarded to Kiran Desai, for her fictional work The Inheritance of Loss. The 35-year-old is the youngest woman, and the third Indian, to win the £ 50,000 award. After two hours of deliberation, Hermione Lee, (chairwoman of the judges) announced that the panel had chosen Desai's second novel over the other shortlisted entries- In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar, The Secret River by Kate Grenville, Carry Me Dow by M. J. Hyland, Mother's Milk by Edward St Aubyn and The Night Watch by Sarah Waters.

"This is a magnificent novel of humane breadth and wisdom, comic tenderness and powerful political acuteness.", Lee said, adding that the judges had "felt strongly about" and "admired" all the entries, and that The Inheritance of Loss was not a "compromise" choice. While accepting the award, Desai said, "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!" After expressing her gratitude to her publisher, editor and agent, she added, "I'm Indian and so I'm going to thank my parents."

Kiran Desai's mother Anita Desai is also an author, and three of her works have been shortlisted for the prize.

The Inheritance of Loss deals with issues such as globalisation, and life in rural India. The book, set in New York and the Himalayas, deals with an embittered judge and his desire to enjoy a peaceful retired life.

"I was very conscious of the emotional territory that I wanted to capture, in terms of the story, I didn't know at all what it was going to be, I think I wrote in every direction - the story of immigrants in New York, my parents, my grandparents, my journey. But yes, I was aware of the certain sort of emotional landscape, darkness, worry and fear that this journey between East and West causes.", said Kiran Desai of her work.

The Booker Prize was founded in 1969 and is considered one of the most prestigious honour given to authors whose works have been published in Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth. The honour was renamed the Man-Booker Prize after the Man Group began sponsoring it.