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Indian diplomat wins copycat Booker Prize

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Aug 31 (UNI) Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup today won the Boeke Prize 2006, a tongue-in-cheek take on the Booker Prize, for his debut novel 'Q&A', a poignant story of how a penniless waiter from Mumbai becomes the biggest quiz-show winner in history.

Swarup, India's Deputy High Commissioner to South Africa, beat competition from seven other shortlisted authors, said Jill van Zyl of Exclusive Books, South Africa, who announced the winner, chosen by 41 book critics representing the media across South Africa.

The shortlisted books were selected from a long list of fiction nominated by booksellers.

"The word on the street was that these were fictional sleeper hits," said van Zyl. "Our judges were called on to decide which of the eight shortlisted titles they considered to be impossible to put down, a compelling story, yet highly accessible to all book lovers." 'Q&A', which is published by Random House, was also the favourite choice of thousands of voters of an in-store competition.

It is the ninth debut novel to scoop the Boeke Prize for the best page-turner and most compelling fiction of the year.

Described as a beguiling blend of high comedy and touching melancholy, 'Q&A'' has been translated into 24 languages and is due to be made into both a film and stage musical.

Born in Allahabad, Swarup attended Allahabad University, where he made his mark as a champion debater. After graduating, he joined the Indian Foreign Service and has served in Turkey, the United States, Ethiopia and Great Britain. He is writing a second novel.

Among the debut books, which made the shortlist this year were 'A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian' by Marina Lewycka, 'Disobedience' by Naomi Alderman and 'The Historian' by Elizabeth Kostova.


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