LONDON - Indian novelist Aravind Adiga has won Britain's prestigious Man Booker prize for his first novel, "The White Tiger."

The novel is about a protagonist who will use any means necessary to fulfill his dream of escaping impoverished village life for success in the big city. The judges praised the book's humor.

The prize is open to novels in English by writers from Britain, Ireland or the Commonwealth of former British colonies. In addition to $88,000, the prize brings a big boost in profile, and usually in sales.

At 34, Adiga was the youngest of the finalists. Irish writer Sebastian Barry's "The Secret Sculpture" was the favorite ahead of Tuesday's announcement. Indian writer Amitav Ghosh was second with his "Sea of Poppies."

Few of the six finalists are household names, and two are first-time authors: In addition to Adiga, Australian Steve Toltz's sprawling father-son saga, "A Fraction of the Whole," is his first work.

Other finalists were Linda Grant for "The Clothes on Their Backs" and Philip Hensher for "The Northern Clemency."

Missing from the list was Salman Rushdie, who in July was named the greatest-ever winner for "Midnight's Children," which took the Booker in 1981.

The award began in 1969 and was renamed Man Booker when the financial services conglomerate Man Group PLC began sponsoring it five years ago.