“The Man Booker Prize for Fiction is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original full-length novel, written in the English language, by a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations, Ireland, or Zimbabwe.”— courtesy wikipedia.com
I have had immense respect & adulation for the winners of the Booker prize and especially when the number of Indian recipients of it has increased over the last decade. This heralds the arrival of Indian writers on the international diaspora where the world community is introduced to the literary works showcasing rural india, its efforts for survival, & subjects alike with a unique ‘indian-ness’ to it.
I was often intrigued to know ‘what would the writing of a Booker-prize winner be?’. May be they might be weaving a sordid tale of poverty, social issues & customs in the most ‘cryptic’ [read confusing] usage of the English language, something which a common man won’t be able to decipher. My confusion was put to rest when I made courage to read my first booker-prize-winning novel The God of small things by an architect turned writer-Arundhati Roy. [I am still amazed to know how an architect can take plunge into serious writing & go ahead to win a booker prize ??]
The book was REALLY difficult in its language, usage of proverbs, metaphorical references, etc. I wondered how can a comman man having the wealth of about 1500-2000 words in its kitty be able to understand such esoteric writings? I can’t remember if I could complete 3 pages in a row WITHOUT referring the dictionary and that too atleast 4-5 times in those 3-pages. [Warning: Buy a dictionary alongwith ‘The God of Small Things’ 🙂 ]. The story line was, however, simple & rooted in rural/semi-urban Kerala. It took me almost a month to complete some 250-300 odd pages.
Just 2-3 days before I bought another booker-prize-winning novel The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. THIS book busted all my previous conclusions of booker-winning novels !! It had such a simple language that I remember using the dictionary ONLY ONCE while reading the book, not that I had developed super vocab in the last couple of years or so. But inherently the book had a simple & understandable writing coupled with a powerful narration. Though I am still confused why the author chose the chinese premier Mr. Jiabao over any other luminary in the world. May be i will send out a mail to Mr Adiga to seek more clarity 😀
But overall I think both these books are so opposites in their simpleness factor, yet so similar in their backgrounds & setups that I might have to read a 3rd book say Kiran Desai’s book The Inheritance of Loss to draw a perfect conclusion on ‘What makes a perfect booker-prize-winning product ??’