Nearly 30 years after the prize’s inception, Arundhati Roy became the first Indian winner, with her debut novel. Roy, sidetracked by other things, took 20 years to release her second.

The God of Small Things, for which Roy received a half-million pound advance, was a huge commercial success, although in her home state of Kerala the novel’s unrestrained sex scenes led to her being accused of obscenity. In the years following her win, Roy spent most of her time engaged in political activism and writing socially-engaged essays, becoming a controversial figure in India.

Eventually, she started another novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, which was longlisted in 2017.

Arundhati Roy
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Arundhati Roy’s poetic debut novel tells the story of twins Estha and Rahel, and the shocking consequences of a pivotal event in their young lives.

The Shortlist

The God of Small Things
Prize winner
The Underground Man
Grace Notes

The 1997 judges