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Booker prize 2017 longlist led by Arundhati Roy

July 29, 2017 01:39 PM

Arundhati Roy won the £ 20,000 ($ 30,000) Booker Prize for her debut novel “The God of Small Things,” was longlisted for her second novel, ,” 20 years later.. She is the first native Indian to win the ultimate laurel wreath for writers of the Commonwealth. Ladbrokes, London's celebrated bookmakers, had stopped accepting bets on Roy who, at 9/4, was the favourite to win the award.

Roy beat the other front-runners, Irish author Bernard MacLaverty for Grace Notes and Madeleine St John with The Essence of The Thing. "There is no such thing as a perfect book. If there had been five different judges there might have been another winner. It is as much luck as worthiness,'' Roy said after receiving the award.

"With extraordinary linguistic inventiveness, Roy funnels the history of South India through the eyes of seven-year-old twins," Booker Prize chairperson Professor Gillian Beer said, announcing the prize for the dimunitive, pretty Indian at Guildhall in London on Tuesday night. "The story is fundamental as well as local: it is about love and death yet tells its tale quite clearly. We were all engrossed by this novel."

Roy beat the other front-runners, Irish author Bernard MacLaverty for Grace Notes and Madeleine St John with The Essence of The Thing.

"There is no such thing as a perfect book. If there had been five different judges there might have been another winner. It is as much luck as worthiness,'' Roy said after receiving the award.

For the 37-year-old architect, script-writer and sometime aerobics teacher from Delhi, the Booker topped a memorable year. The God of Small Things earned her a reported £ 1 million ($ 1.6 million) in advances. Critical acclaim was also lavish; critics the world over acclaimed the first novel as a contemporary masterpiece. The most effusive praise for the book came from the great American novelist John Updike in the New Yorker.

It was indeed sweet triumph for Roy who spent four-and-a-half years on the book, sometimes writing only seven lines a day. Unlike most of the world's leading novelists, she says she does not like to rewrite or revise her work.

The novel did very well for itself in the US and continental Europe, but in Britain, home of the Booker, it performed below par. God may have sold more copies than other novels on the Booker short-list, but it was only the 16th most popular hardback in Britain last week, selling 953 copies in the last 7 days.

 No writer of Indian origin had won the Booker since Salman Rushdie with Midnight's Children in 1981. 'Indian' writers -- if you could call two Bombay-born novelists, one domiciled in Britain, the other in Canada that -- were nominated several times in intervening years. Rushdie for Shame, Satanic Verses and The Moor's Last Sigh; Rohinton Mistry for Such A Long Journey and A Fine Balance -- final approval, however, eluded both men. Three distinguished Indian writers of recent vintage -- Amitav Ghosh, Allan Sealy, and famously Vikram Seth -- were not even short-listed for the Booker. The last named omission raised an almighty stink, with Seth's agent Giles Gordon dashing off a pungent missive to the Booker jury.

As always, this contest too had compulsory controversy. The selection was criticised for not including Ian McEwan's Enduring Love and for not being adventurous enough. Sure, we had all heard of God Of Small Things -- but Quarantine and Grace Notes?

Roy says she has no plans to write a second novel despite the huge excitement generated by her debut. "For me this prize is about my past," she said. "Having written this, I am back to square one. I do not know whether I will write another.''

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