25 February, 2021

"I Don't Feel Any Different"

Kiran Desai defies the odds to win a Booker for her Inheritance

"I Don't Feel Any Different"
When the demure young woman clad in a shapeless kurta and with a sing-song Indian convent school accent stood up to receive one of the world's top literary prizes, she was perhaps the only one in the glittering Man Booker Prize ceremony at London's Guildhall on Tuesday evening who didn't actually turn a hair of her un-blowdried shoulder-length crop. "It's like winning a lottery," she told Outlook in her characteristically matter-of-fact tone. "No one in the competition is a heavyweight or lightweight. It's all a matter of luck."

Just how chancy the whole business of winning the Man Booker can be is the way the bookies' odds kept shifting this time. At £50,000, the award is not the richest literary cash prize, but in terms of soaring post-Booker sales, not to speak of advances for future books, there's no literary prize that is more coveted than the 27-year-old Man Booker. This year it was Peter Carey who emerged as the early favourite, tipped to win a third time. But he didn't make it to the shortlist of six. Nor did Nadine Gordimer....

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