Thursday, November 7, 2013

#38 : The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga : A Review

Buy The White Tiger: Book


BOOK TITLE: The White Tiger

ISBN: 1416562591

AUTHOR: Aravind Adiga

GENRE: Fiction

NUMBER OF PAGES: 318

FORMAT: Digital (Epub)

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

REVIEW BY: Shree Janani

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: The book won the prestigious “Man Booker” award. I wanted to see why it did. Purchased a digital copy of it!

REVIEW:
This review contains two parts. One, the story line (Sans my comments) and the other, my comments. The reason for having such a structure will be apparent on reading the review

The story of our protagonist Balram Halwai, is narrated a his letter from him to the Chinese premier Wen Jiabao. Balram is the son of a rickshaw puller who goes to become a “successful” businessman by murdering his employer. The letter opens with narration of Balram's life in his village which is that typical Indian village where men are forced to work from a very young age to pay off their sisters dowry. Balram quits studies to go work in a tea shop where here begins to learn about India's government and economy from his customers' conversations.

He quits that job and learns driving. He then becomes a driver for a corrupt “Foreign return” business man Ashok who relocates from Balram's native village to Delhi.

Balram eventually decides to escape his “servant” life ( The writers uses the term ' Rooster Coop' to describe a servant's life ) by killing Ashok. He successfully murders (and robs) Ashok and flees from Delhi. He then goes on to become a successful businessman (Travel services provider for IT companies) in Bengaluru by bribing cops. When one of his drivers kills a bike messenger Balram pays off the family. Balram explains that his family was almost certainly killed as a retribution for Ashok's murder.

That's the story part of the book. Proceeding to my comments.

The book (according to Wikipedia) supposedly provides “a darkly humorous perspective of India’s class struggle in a globalized world as told through a retrospective narration from Balram Halwai, a village boy”

First, I really didn't find “dark humor”. It isn't even remotely humorous. Or wait. May be when “one of his driver” kills off a messenger it's kind of dark humour. I thought that was supposed to be irony.

Then the writer goes on to state that “ the exigence for The White Tiger was to capture the unspoken voice of people from "the Darkness" – the impoverished areas of rural India, and he "wanted to do so without sentimentality or portraying them as mirthless humorless weaklings as they are usually."

I strongly disagree with him there. People from rural India aren't “humorless weaklings”. In fact I know many people from rural India are truly sincere, hardworking and strong. Mr.Adiga has committed a blunder of describing a rural servant as a murderer of his master. Does he even know that people living in cities prefer servants from rural area?

And hey. Ashok isn't portrayed as that “master” who treats Balram badly. In fact they did pay him well. Technically speaking Balram shouldn't really complain or murder him.

The worst part is when Balram is referred to as a white tiger. An animal which symbolizes freedom and individuality. Balram is portrayed as that person who made all the difference and found his way to “Light” from the “Darkness”. If you ask me it's the opposite. No matter how successful one becomes, without a clean conscience he is still in the dark. Balram chooses a wrong way to become successful. If this is “Dark humour”, please Mr.Adiga, your book failed to impressed me.

The book left a sour taste when I finished it. I finished it in 6 hours straight not because it was interesting, but because I wanted to be done with it. The book failed to convey all emotions it was technically supposed to convey. A poor story line written even poorly.

To put it simply. I didn't like the book one bit and wonder why the book was awarded a “man booker”

VERDICT: Overrated.

RATING: 2/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Aravind Adiga was born in 1974 in Madras (now called Chennai), and grew up in Mangalore in the south of India. He was educated at Columbia University in New York and Magdalen College, Oxford. His articles have appeared in publications such as the New Yorker, the Sunday Times, the Financial Times, and the Times of India. His first novel, The White Tiger, won the Man Booker Prize for fiction in 2008. A second novel, Last Man in Tower, was published in 2011.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Digital, Paperback

PRICE: Rs.200 (Paperback)

BOOK LINKS: http://www.flipkart.com/the-white-tiger/p/itmdyf56eptgh6zt

Note : This review was first posted in 
Readers' Muse


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