Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The White Tiger by Arvind Adiga - A Massive Massive Disappointment

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (Harper Collins) is the first thing that comes to my mind when i think about undeserved international success. The book won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2008.

The White Tiger tells us the story of Balram, a chauffeur. It tells us of his journey from the bitter village life in India to a life of riches in the city. The book is darkly humourous and nearly every page presents a superb phrase or commentary. The concept of the narrative being a letter written by Balram to the Chinese Premier is also brilliant since it aptly captures the socio-political differences between the two countries.

The problem is good phrases and choice of narratives do not really make a great book. What this book lacks is objectivity. This is disappointing since Mr. Adiga has been a journalist who are known for objective reporting. In his enthusiasm for 'showing' the real India, Aravind goes overboard with the extremely negative aspects of India. In fact after a certain number of pages, the book just starts looking like a vicious attack on India using literary means.

The book does not seem well researched about the lives of village 'Bihari' people who are nearly depicted as savages. I belong to the same state in India and know well of the suffering that these villagers go through every day. However they are still extremely gentle people and depicting them as viciously as in the book is plain wrong.

Finally, it does not seem to present any clear message in the story. A very 'Unreal' Indian outlook makes this a highly un-readable book.

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