Aravind Adiga was born in 1974 in Madras (now called Chennai), and grew up in Mangalore in the south of India. He was educated at Columbia University in New York and Magdalen College, Oxford. His articles have appeared in publications such as the New Yorker, the Sunday Times, the Financial Times, and the Times of India. His first novel, The White Tiger, won the Man Booker Prize for fiction in 2008. A second novel, Last Man in Tower, was published in 2011.
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Who are some of your literary influences? Do you identify yourself particularly as an Indian writer?
It might make more sense to speak of influences on this book, rather than on me. The influences on The White Tiger are three black American writers of the post-World War II era (in order), Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and Richard Wright. The odd thing is that I haven't read any of them for years and years -- I read Ellison's Invisible Man in 1995 or 1996, and have never returned to it -- but now that the book is done, I can see how deeply it's indebted to them. As a writer, I don't feel tied to any one identity; I'm happy to draw influences from wherever they come.
Could you describe your process as a writer? Was the transition from journalism to fiction difficult?
A first draft of The White Tiger was written in 2005, and then put aside. I had given up on the book. Then, for reasons I don't fully understand myself, in December 2006, when I'd just returned to India after a long time abroad, I opened the draft and began rewriting it entirely. I wrote all day long for the next month, and by early January 2007, I could see that I had a novel on my hands.
From where did the inspiration for Balram Halwai come? How did you...
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