Finally, I read this book. The book was interesting to read. First the interesting background story of the book:
This book’s author Aravind Adiga was very much in news before the book came out for receiving the one-of-the-highest-advances- Indian-authors-have ever-received-for- a-book in an auction at London Book Fair. $30, 000 USD (14lakhs). Remember advance is the not the total money an author makes, its amount of money that is given to cover the time it will take the writer to write the book. And then when the book got published, it would not sell, pubishers were worried. Situation, of course, changed when The White Tiger was awarded Man Booker Prize. Book sales soared. Then Adiga, dropped another newsy bomb, by firing his agent who had got him a big fat advance.
So coming back to book, this book too, like Slumdog Millionaire has raised question that why western world only laps up books about India’s poverty and darkest corner. Book’s premise can be summed up in a single sentence as: Story of poor rickshawpuller’s son Balram who tells story of his life (India’s ‘darkness’) to Chinese premier. Of course, book also covers other cliche about India: our call centers.
The book is written in monologue narrative format just as Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist is. I do not know why author chose Chinese Premier in particular to tell his story. Though author does provide a filmsy reason for his choice. There are faint digs at China at times, but focus of the book is to point out the BIG divide between rich and poor in the country. Story is set in our Capital City Delhi, taking dig at corruption amongst our bureaucrats.
Throw in a murder, suspense is added to the story of ‘Darkness’ in India. I would not breathe a single more word about the murder in the plot, go read and find yourself. Other than that, you very much know the plot, but to taste it you will have to read the pithy, witty prose.
It is a single-point-of-view-story, it is very believable. As they say, such underbelly exists in our country. Unlike Arundhanti’s The God of Small Things, The White Tiger is very readable, written in lucid language. The narrative, even if related to unpleasant subjects, is written in form of witty prose. It is also fast-paced to read as brevity is ingrained in Adiga’s writing.
My Rating: 3.5/5, only because it is readable. I can not give it 5 because the book didn’t tell me anything I did not know, also because it is uni-dimensional. Life is not so uni-dimensional always.
My Bonus gift to you: This short story called The Elephant (after The White Tiger) written by Aravind Adiga for New Yorker. It is story of Chennaya, a coolie, another man from Indian Rooster camp. You will understand the term Rooster Camp once you read Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger.
P.S: January 27 was Lewis Carrol’s birthday. One of his two cents: “One of the secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others.”