Early life and education
Aravind Adiga was born in Madras (now Chennai) on 23 October 1974 to Dr. K. Madhava Adiga and Usha Adiga, both of whom hailed from Mangalore. His paternal grandfather was the late K. Suryanarayana Adiga, former chairman of Karnataka Bank, and a maternal great-grandfather, U. Rama Rao, a popular medical practitioner and Congress politician from Madras.
Adiga grew up in Mangalore and studied at Canara High School, then at St. Aloysius College, where he completed his SSLC in 1990 and secured the first place in his state in SSLC (his elder brother, Anand, had placed second in SSLC and first in PUC in the state).
After emigrating to Sydney, Australia, with his family, Aravind studied at James Ruse Agricultural High School. He later studied English literature at Columbia College of Columbia University, in New York city, under Simon Schama, and graduated as salutatorian in 1997. He also studied at Magdalen College, Oxford, where one of his tutors was Hermione Lee.
Aravind Adiga began his journalistic career as a financial journalist, interning at the Financial Times. With pieces published in the Financial Times and Money, he covered the stock market and investment, interviewing, among others, Donald Trump. Adiga’s review of previous Booker Prize winner Peter Carey‘s 1988 book, Oscar and Lucinda, appeared in The Second Circle, an online literary review.
Adiga was subsequently hired by TIME, where he remained a South Asia correspondent for three years before going freelance. During this freelance period, he wrote The White Tiger. He now lives in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.
Adiga’s debut novel, The White Tiger, won the 2008 Booker Prize. He is the fourth Indian-born author to win the prize, after Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, and Kiran Desai. (V. S. Naipaul, another winner, is ethnically Indian but was born on the Caribbean island of Trinidad.) The five other authors on the shortlist included one other Indian writer (Amitav Ghosh) and another first-time writer (Steve Toltz). The novel studies the contrast between India’s rise as a modern global economy and the lead character, Balram, who comes from crushing rural poverty.
At a time when India is going through great changes and, with China, is likely to inherit the world from the West, it is important that writers like me try to highlight the brutal injustices of [Indian] society. That’s what I’m trying to do – it is not an attack on the country, it’s about the greater process of self-examination.
Shortly after he won the prize, it was alleged that Adiga had, the previous year, sacked the agent who had secured his contract with Atlantic Books at the 2007 London Book Fair. In April 2009, it was announced that the novel would be adapted into a feature film. Propelled mainly by the Booker Prize win, The White Tiger‘s Indian hardcover edition sold more than 200,000 copies.
Adiga’s second book, Between the Assassinations, was released in India in November 2008 and in the US and UK in mid-2009; twelve interlinked short stories comprise this book. His second novel and third published book, Last Man in Tower, was published in the UK in 2011. His third novel, Selection Day, was published on 8 September 2016.
The White Tiger: A Novel. Atlantic Books, Ltd (UK), Free Press (US), 2008
- Between the Assassinations. Picador (IND), 2008
- Last Man in Tower. Fourth Estate (IND), 2011
- Selection Day. HarperCollins India (IND), 2016
- Amnesty. Picador, Pan Macmillan, 2020
- “The Sultan’s Battery”
- “Last Christmas in Bandra”
- “The Elephant”