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About Amit Varma

Amit Varma is a writer based in Mumbai. He worked in journalism for over a decade, and won the Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2007. His bestselling novel, My Friend Sancho, was published in 2009. He is best known for his blog, India Uncut. His current project is a non-fiction book about the lack of personal and economic freedoms in post-Independence India.




Bastiat Prize 2007 Winner

Recent entries

Demonetisation Tales

This is the 23rd installment of Rhyme and Reason, my weekly set of limericks for the Sunday Times of India…

The Rise and Fall of Emperor Modi

This is the 33rd installment of Lighthouse, my monthly column for BLink, a supplement of the Hindu Business Line. November…

The Humanitarian Cost Trumps Any Economic Argument

Every time a poor person dies, India's GDP per capita goes up. #Modinomics— Amit Varma (@amitvarma) November 23, 2016 So…

Narendra Modi takes a Great Leap Backwards

This is a guest column published today in the Sunday Times of India edit page. In 1958, Chairman Mao ordered…

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Libertarian

Exactly one year ago, on November 17 2015, I sat opposite Steve Bannon in his NYC office as he asked…

07 September, 2008

The Inside Story Of The Booker Prize

In a superb feature, “Tears, tiffs and triumphs”, The Guardian has persuaded “a [Booker Prize] judge from every year to tell us the inside story of how the winner was chosen.” Much fun—and much enlightenment: an observation that crops up more than once is that the judges come to jury meetings with their minds made up, and the rest is horse-trading. James Wood, a judge in 1994, writes:

[T]he absurdity of the process was soon apparent: it is almost impossible to persuade someone else of the quality or poverty of a selected novel (a useful lesson in the limits of literary criticism). In practice, judge A blathers on about his favourite novel for five minutes, and then judge B blathers on about her favourite novel for five minutes, and nothing changes: no one switches sides. That is when the horse-trading begins. I remember that one of the judges phoned me and said, in effect: “I know that you especially like novel X, and you know that I especially like novel Y. It would be good if both those books got on to the shortlist, yes? So if you vote for my novel, I’ll vote for yours, OK?”

That is how our shortlist was patched together, and it is how our winner was chosen.

My first novel is on the longlist of another literary prize, and even though I know that prizes don’t make a book better or worse than it is, I’ll be either ecstatic or heartbroken on the day the shortlist is announced. The rational part of my brain tells me to not think about it, to get back to that second book that I’ve begun, to write another 500 words, or 300, or even 50, before I head off to bed. But the roulette wheel spins, and I’m holding my breath…

Posted by Amit Varma in Arts and entertainment | My Friend Sancho | Personal

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