Two tales of India, and Indians — one set in the late 19th century, British-ruled subcontinent and the other in an independent, economically aggressive 21st century ‘new India’ — have pipped Man Booker Prize favourite Salman Rushdie’s medieval enchantress to the prize’s shortlist.
Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies and debut novelist Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger made it to the shortlist for the £50,000 prize (Rs 40 lakh) — announced on Tuesday — along with four other titles.
Rushdie was in the longlist for his latest novel The Enchantress of Florence. His exclusion was unexpected, especially after he won the Booker of Booker for the second time this year, for Midnight’s Children.
After the announcement of the longlist in July, bookmakers Ladbrokes had installed Rushdie’s work as the 4 to 1 favourite. Irish author Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland was another favourite. Rushdie’s title had seen a 56.5 per cent surge in sales in the first week after the announcement.
Michael Portillo, on the Booker chair of judges, called the six final works “intensely readable” and “extraordinary examples of imagination and narrative. These books are both ambitious and approachable.”