Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger was praised for highlighting the injustices and poverty present in the rapidly changing India when it won the Man Booker Prize, but now many Indian critics have expressed outrage at the judges' decision.
For some, Adiga's savage indictment of the way the rich treat the servant class panders to western prejudices.
"I felt the book took us back three decades," said folk art expert Ritu Sethi. "It had every stereotype going in it. The BBC used to show nothing but cows on the roads for years. We're back to that with this book."
Others criticised the novel for being dull and demeaning. Author and playwright Manjula Padmanabhan dismissed it as "a tedious, unfunny slog".
She agreed that much of the recent hype about India as an emerging superpower was dishonest and complacent but asked: "Is this schoolboyish sneering the best that we can do?"
Having bought the book, affluent Indians may shift uncomfortably in their seats. The daily inhumanity shown by the rich towards their domestic staff in The White Tiger is something of which many will realise they too are guilty.
The fearful crime which the protagonist Balram Halwai commits will send a frisson of fear up their spines.
Adiga says the Indian middle class is paranoid about servants and their "laziness", "greed" and "thieving" tendencies but expresses amazement that, given the huge disparities of wealth, so few actually commit any crime.
"Look at the intimate access that servants have to their masters in their homes, and yet there are very few murders or attacks. But that doesn't reassure the middle class. It is becoming more insecure than before because it is richer now and has more to lose," says Adiga.
The White Tiger marks a new departure in India by portraying the emotions, sorrows, and aspirations of the hitherto invisible poor. For Adiga, his achievement is capturing "something new" in India, a stirring, a glimmer of a refusal by the poor to accept the fate ordained for them by their masters.
But this flicker of an "awakening" does not mean the end of the current social order where the poor slave 24/7 as cooks, cleaners, drivers, nannies and maids so that the well off can feel comfortable.
"The system is beginning to deteriorate but it remains. It will remain, but with higher levels of crime and lower levels of security," says Adiga.
The author looks at India with the perspective both of an insider, having grown up in India, and as outsider, having emigrated for years and then returned.
"As an immigrant in the US and England, I was an outsider. I spent a lot of time being confused, trying to figure things out. That was how I understood how Indian villagers feel when they move to the big cities for work," Adiga says.
William Green, former Time Asia Edior understands why the book has raised Indian hackles. "It is an unsettling novel, it touches very raw nerves, but I think he captures the complexity and subtlety of India in fiction in a way that you don't see in journalism," he says.
For some Indians, The White Tiger is an appalling regression. Just when they thought they had finally shed the old image of India as a land of poverty, cows and snakecharmers and started being respected as a hi-tech, prosperous nation, along comes Adiga to, as it were, rub their noses in the dirt again.
"I used to hate Naipaul for talking contemptuously about India, about how cleaners mop the floor in restaurants by crouching and moving like crabs and all that talk about Indians defecating in the open," said a freelance editor, Anjali Kapoor. "Adiga is the same, focussing on everything that is bad and disgusting."