Short List of Booker Winners

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I picked up Amnesty, the new novel by Booker-prize winning author Aravind Adiga (for The White Tiger, 2007), at the Sewickley Book Store, in preparation for my annual India visit, which is now postponed due to Corona virus.

Indeed, as an abundance of caution, I decided to Zoom my presentation Re-imagining the US Transplant System, a lunch keynote in Ann Arbor, at the Aspen Institute Business & Society Program, where I discussed OrganJet and Nudge. I cannot resist sharing the email from the host Jerry Davis:

Hi Sridhar,

    I want to thank you most profusely for your excellent talk on Friday. It was just as magical as the version you gave at the ACM conference, and highlighted the rich diversity of your scholarship and your ability to bring it to real-world problems. (I am highly confident I have never met anyone else who draws on OR, Rawls, IT, and behavioral economics all at once!)

I love that my talks are described as Magical! Let me get back to the topic of this post, with the master of Magical Realism

The first Booker prize winning book I read – I had to read, as it was required reading at a IIT-Madras Humanties course Indian Writing in English – was Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children.

That was 1982 or 1983. In 2017, I met him, in New York, at NY Fashion Week (at Bibhu Mohapatra’s event). He told me that he had received an honorary doctorate from MIT! I told him that MIT was where I had two visiting stints, in Operations Research and Operations Management, not in English!

Many years later, after avoiding The God of Small Things (Arundhati Roy, 1997), I decided to read it because my Tepper colleague, Rick Green (Finance prof, but undergrad in English) strongly suggested that I read it, so we can discuss what I thought about it and why he liked it even if I did not. A few years after that, Roy came to Pittsburgh to speak on her next book The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.

I must have been the only Capitalist in the auditorium!

I got a signed copy; I must admit I did not like this book either. I just don’t like her novels. What I do like is her non-fiction writing, although I do not entirely agree with her stance on things. Ghost Capitalism is a lovely read.

Ian McEwan’s Nutshell is gripping, and in my view, highly original. It is way better than Solar, which was a disappointment after reading the wonderful (although somewhat predictable) Saturday. No, I have not read Amsterdam, his 1998 Booker-prize winning book.

My favorite Booker-prize winning book?  Julian Barnes’ The Sense of An Ending (2011). 

The funniest (non-fiction) essays by a Booker-prize winning author? Whatever it is, I don’t Like it, by Howard Jacobson. (I could not finish The Finkler Question (2010), however, in my first attempt.)

Movies based on Booker Prize? Life of Pi (2002), The English Patient (1992), Heat and Dust (1975), Remains of the Day (1989).

Still recovering from Lincoln in the Bardo (2017) by George Saunders.

Who has written more insightfully, especially about India, even if you find it uncomfortable to read (India: A Million Mutinies Now), than V.S. Naipaul? (In a Free State, 1971, was his Booker Prize winning book, that is not about India though).

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