LONDON (AFP) - Indian writer Aravind Adiga won the 2008 Booker Prize, one of the world's most prestigious literary awards, for his debut novel "The White Tiger", judges announced late Tuesday. The 33-year-old was awarded the 50,000-pound (87,000-dollar, 64,000-euro) prize at a ceremony in London for his tale of a man's journey from Indian village life to entrepreneurial success. Chairman of the judges Michael Portillo said the book's originality in showing "the dark side of India" had set it apart from the others. "My criteria were 'does it knock my socks off?', and this one did," he said. Adiga was one of two Indian writers nominated for the award, which is given to the best work of fiction by an author from the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland, alongside Amitav Ghosh for "Sea of Poppies." The other shortlisted authors were Australia's Steve Toltz, with "A Fraction of the Whole", Irishman Sebastian Barry for "The Secret Scripture", and British writers Linda Grant and Philip Hensher for "The Clothes on Their Backs" and "The Northern Clemency" respectively. "The White Tiger" follows Balram Halwai, the son of a rickshaw puller who dreams of better things than life as teashop worker and driver. But when he finally makes it to the bright lights of New Delhi, he is caught between his loyalty to his family and his desire to better himself. "I would like to dedicate this award to the people of New Delhi," Adiga said on accepting the prize, adding that 300 years ago it was the most important city on Earth and could become so again. Portillo said Adiga's book was chosen because it "shocked and entertained in equal measure". "The novel undertakes the extraordinarily difficult task of gaining and holding the reader's sympathy for a thoroughgoing villain," he said, adding that it also dealt with pressing social issues with "astonishing humour". Interviewed by India's NDTV news channel after the award ceremony, Adiga confessed he was stunned to have won the prize. "I had no idea it was coming," he said, adding that he regarded just making the shortlist as a significant achievement. He also rejected the idea that his book was overly critical of Indian society, saying that he had intended to be provocative but "funny' at the same time. "I don't think its a harsh critique unlike a lot of books written," he said. "The reader is entirely free to take the narrator's views or not. It's a novel." Adiga, who was born in Madras in October 1974 and now lives in Mumbai, is the fourth Indian-born author to win the Booker Prize since it was set up in 1969, joining compatriots Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy and Kiran Desai. His book is the ninth winning novel to take its inspiration from India or Indian identity. Adiga is also only the third debut novelist to win after DBC Pierre in 2003, for "Vernon God Little", and Roy in 1997 for "The God of Small Things". Now in its 40th year, the Booker Prize has become one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world. It is open to full-length novels published in the past year and originally written in English. Winning all but guarantees worldwide readership and a spike in book sales " according to Amazon online retailer, sales of the six shortlisted books rose by an average of 700 percent after the list was announced last month. Last year's winner, "The Gathering" by Anne Enright, has sold more than half a million copies in English language editions. The other shortlisted authors receive 2,500 pounds and a designer-bound edition of their novel.