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The White Tiger plot thickens

The White Tiger plot thickens

In a twist straight out of, well, a novel, the film adaptation of Aravind Adiga’s 2008 Booker Prize-winning The White Tiger was put in legal jeopardy. With a fine sense of drama, a mere twenty-four hours before the release of the film, two movie producers filed a copyright infringement suit at the Delhi High Court against the film’s actual producer, his chartered accountant and Netflix. Sonia Mudbhatkal and John Hart claimed that the adaptation rights were theirs, that there were “suspicious transactions” involved and, to put it politely, that subterfuge was nodded through. The Delhi High Court refused to delay the release of the film, citing “unjustifiable claims”. Nevertheless, the case of who owns the adaptation rights is going ahead, with the hearing in Delhi scheduled for 22 March. Adiga has yet to write a courtroom drama but it sounds as if the plot for his next novel is unfolding before him.

It is clear what some Booker Prize authors have been doing during the lockdown. Former winner Marlon James, one of this year’s judges – Chigozie Obioma, and a former International Booker Prize judge – Helen Oyeyemi, are among the writers submitting an erotic tale to a new book, Anonymous Sex. No fewer than 28 authors have signed up for the anthology, the idea of which, according to one of its editors, is to be “elegant and beautiful” and not “smutty”. The authors will be listed but no clue will be given as to who wrote what. Such a tease. Perhaps Obioma had his fruity story already written or perhaps it is a bit of R&R briefly to take his mind off the pile of Booker Prize submissions that he has to get through. Or just maybe it is something about the word “submission” itself that got his writerly mind working in an unexpected direction.

Ben Okri, Booker Prize winner in 1991, is a contributor to a very different sort of anthology. Okri is one of the founders of Letters to the Earth, a literary initiative in which writers respond to the climate crisis. A collection of their work, Letters to the Earth: Writing to a Planet in Crisis, has just been published and to mark it, Okri read his own piece live on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme. 

In the wake of his Booker Prize win, Douglas Stuart continues to head towards world domination. Thanks to a grant from the Publishing Scotland Translation Fund – a pot of cash to help foreign publishers get their hands on Scottish books and bring them out in their own countries – Shuggie Bain will shortly be available in Turkish, Serbian, Portuguese and Arabic. Ali Smith is another Booker Prize novelist to have benefitted from the fund, appearing in Hungarian and Serbian. It is curious to think that readers in Istanbul or Riyadh or Lisbon might find parallels between their own cities and the Glasgow depicted with such tough love in Shuggie Bain.

Needless to say, all Booker Prize-nominated writers are talented but Jhumpa Lahiri is multitalented. The novelist, shortlisted in 2013 for The Lowland, is not only a Pulitzer Prize winner and professor of creative writing at Princeton University but a translator of note. Indeed, she has just been awarded the John Florio Prize for translating Domenico Starnone’s 2016 novel, Trick. The prize is a biennial award worth £2,000 for translating an Italian novel into English. What’s more, after nearly a decade, she has a novel of her own coming out in April, called Whereabouts. She’s not showing off but it is worth noting that she wrote the book in Italian first and then translated it into English. Well, since she can, it would be rude not to.