Although I am only one book into the Booker shortlist this year, I picked the right title to bring away with me on holiday and to write a review of for Starmag. So in that sense I'm happy. As for whether I'm happy with it as the winner ... well I think it will prove a popular choice. It is highly readable (quite zippy actually!), very well written, with relevant and important stuff to say about India's economic miracle, corruption as the only means of survival, the haves and have-nots.
But I am also feeling a little underwhelmed by it. Maybe this is because some of the books I've read recently (including The Brief Wondrous Life of Osar Wao by Junot Dias and We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver - both of which I need to write about here) blew me away in a way this book just hasn't managed to yet. (And I'm two-thirds of the way through.) It isn't getting under my skin.
At least, though, I do not feel like chucking it into a Balinese swimming pool as almost happened to Anne Enright's book last year! (A novel I hasten to add that I came to greatly appreciate on second reading.)
I also keep comparing it to Indra Sinha's Animal's People which was shortlisted last year and with which I feel it shares certain similarities. Yet I feel that Sinha's book is far the stronger ... I connected with Animal far more than I'm able to connect with Balram.
But I'm happy for Adiga. He's only the fourth debut novelist to have won, and the second youngest ever, and the fifth Indian author. Michael Portillo, chair of the judges, said that for the panel in the end :
... what set this book apart was its originality; for many of us this is entirely new territory - India the dark side. It was in many ways perfect.Charlotte Higgins writes about the winner on the Guardian website and there is also an extract from the book to whet your appetite. John Sutherland writes an amusing piece about the categories that Booker winners fit into and ask where this book belongs. (He concludes that Adiga is both shooting star and uncommonly readable.) Sam Jordison reviews the novel here.
There's another extract on the Telegraph site, and you might like to read Neal Mukerjee's review here.
I'll append any other relevant links here later.