Indian-born writer Aravind Adiga has won this year's Man Booker Prize with his debut novel The White Tiger.

Adiga and fellow first-time novelist Steve Toltz were named on the Man Booker shortlist last month, along with Amitav Ghosh, Philip Hensher, Linda Grant and favourite Sebastian Barry.

But it was Adiga's tale of Balram, the son of an Indian rickshaw puller who works to achieve entrepreneurial success, which took the 2008 accolade and a £50,000 prize.

The 33-year-old becomes only the fourth debut novelist to win the prestigious award.

Former politician Michael Portillo, who chaired the Man Booker judging panel, said that while the shortlist contained undeniably strong candidates, The White Tiger took the prize as it was, in many ways, "the perfect novel".

"In the end, The White Tiger prevailed because the judges felt that it shocked and entertained in equal measure," he added.

"The novel undertakes the extraordinarily difficult task of gaining and holding the reader's sympathy for a thoroughgoing villain. The book gains from dealing with pressing social issues and significant global developments with astonishing humour."

Portillo praised the novel's "originality" and claimed it presented "a different aspect of India" and was a book with enormous literary merit".

Adiga, a former correspondent for Time magazine, can expect a significant boost in sales and notoriety following his Man Booker win.

When asked of the importance of the prize, Adiga told the BBC: "It is important to my publishers, so what's important to them is important to me."

He dedicated the award to "the people of New Delhi".

15/10/2008 10:12:24