Aravind Adiga’s novel won the Man Booker Prize last year. I can’t say whether or not it was a worthy winner, as I haven’t read the entire shortlist, but I shan’t be complaining. This is a magnificent novel, all the more so because it is Adiga’s debut novel. It tells the story, through his own words, of Balram Halwai, a rich Indian entrepreneur, who on the occasion of a visit to Bangalore by His Excellency Wen Jiaboa of the People’s Republic of China, decides to narrate his life story so that the distinguished visitor can learn about the country he is about to visit. Balram’s story begins in poverty and it appears that this might be a rags-to-riches story. Instead Balram declares himself a murderer and a fugitive and his story tells not of a romanticised India, but of an India that is corrupt, violent, riven by the caste system and unable to shake off his colonial past. It is in equal measure narrowing and hilarious and is a biting satire not only on modern India, but on global capitalism. The great irony is that Balram, for all his deception and his murderous, violent and remorseless past, emerges as an insightful critic and commentator, and as the most human of all the characters in the book. This is a hugely impressive achievement and an epic of a novel in its reach. I look forward to his next book that is due to be published later this summer.