Book Review : The White Tiger by Arvind Adiga

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For me, the reputation of the novel preceded, the book itself. Surrounded in controversy, I figured this debutante booker prize -winning novel written by a journalist turned writer was bound to be interesting. Seen through a journalist’s eye, I was sure the narrative would maintain a tone of observational integrity. As I grabbed my copy of the book, my imagination was further piqued when I realized that the entire story is written in the course of seven confessional, letters, from the garrulous Balram,an Indian driver to the Chinese premier Wen Liabo. Through this sardonic caustically funny account narrated by none other than the ” white tiger” Balram himself, Adiga strives to paint a picture of two disparate worlds. One is of the hopeless, backwardness of a village lost in darkness In rural Bihar and the other of the uncaring, fast paced, perversely corrupt merciless urban culture seeping its way in Indian metros ,projected via a sliver of Delhi. The two settings and the “animals” that inhabit them set out a chasm that is utterly unbridgeable. Adiga deftly etches out Balram as an entrepreneur, one whose tiger’s leap across the chasm is the product of social forces he cannot control. To what extent he succeeds in his attempt, I leave the reader to decide. After finishing it, I found my mind in a quagmire of contradictions. The book is indeed gripping and many witty observations may seem to ring true but at the same time there are sections where I found the depictions of characters a bit hollow, deprecating and often trite. If one was to look at the negatives, many a scenario seemed implausible, the villains a little over the top, Bollywood style melodramatic and the projection of Bihar a trifle inauthentic. However the intriguing story line and brilliant writing style more than compensate for it all.. On the surface it is a simple story of the village boy turned driver who murders his master for a bag full of cash. But Balram’s journey to the murder and beyond is such a fascinating tale that leaves us understanding and perhaps even rooting for the murderer who had taken life into his own hands. The tone of Adiga’s protagonist is simple, bold and funny. But it is a simplicity that is raw, a humour so dark and belying such anger that the result is both unsettling and electrifying. Taking all these factors into account, the book certainly is a one time read.]]>

Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

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