White Tiger by Arvind Adiga
I’ve been sitting in front of the computer for a while and I don’t really know what to say about this book. Let me begin by saying that I ‘enjoyed’ reading it, it’s well written, it flows, it’s funny, it keeps you engaged… until you stop and realise that you shouldn’t be enjoying this, you should be appalled about the condition he lives in, his work, his prospects, the society around him.
It’s a rag to riches story, it’s a long letter, written on the course of a few nights from the slum dweller/driver/murderer/entrepenour to a Chinese statesman about to visit India, it’s about the state of a society that’s multilayered and complicated and messy and vibrant and frankly almost incomprehensible from out Western point of views. Modern ways, ancient ways, traditions and modern technology, dog eats dog and the smarter win. Sometimes.
Morality? Good, evil, they’re all blurred and impossible to call. It’s not so easy.
Does this book do a bit too much of India bashing? I’ve never been, I can’t say. I’m inclined to say that a lot if not all what he mentions does go on. Is Balram’s voice (he’s the main character who tells the story in first person) authentic or is he the voice of an educated outsider? Indeed the ‘language’ was slated by some reviewer for not being ‘real’.
I don’t know. It’s a good book, I’m glad I read it. It stops you in your track and make you think that there are other realities out there and simply utter judgements about them is not enough. It goes deeper than that.
The list so far:
2018 Mr Hanckock and the mermaid
2017 – Magari domain resto (Lorenzo Maroni)
2016 – Upstream (Mary Oliver)
2015 – Reasons to stay alive (Matt Haig)
2014 – Annihilation (Jeff VanderMeer)
2013 – Careless people (Sarah Churchwell)
2012 – Wonder
2011 – The Paris Wife (Paula McLain)
2009 – Let the great world spin (Colum McCann)
2008 – The White Tiger (Aravind Adiga)
2005 – Never let me go (Kazuo Ishiguro)
2002 – Everything is illuminated (Jonathan Safran Foer)
2001 – American Gods (Nail Gainman)
2000 – Coram Boy (Jamila Gavin)
1997 – Paradise (Toni Morrison)
1996 – Wilfred and Eileen (Jonathan Smith)
1991- Regeneration (Pat Barker)
1989 – Like water to chocolate (Laura Esquivel)
1987 – Norwegian Wood (Haruki Murakami)
1985 – Oranges are not the only fruit (Jeanette Winterson)
1983 – Heartburn (Nora Ephron)
1982 – The colour purple (Alice Walker)
1980 – Emmeline (Judith Rossiter)
1979– The bloody chamber (Angela Carter)