Sunday, November 23, 2008

Book Review: The White Tiger

I just finished read Aravind Adiga's 'The White Tiger' last night. It was easy to read, and difficult to put down--I finished reading it in two days, which is very fast for a generally slow reader like me.

It held my interest with the situations he has written about, the characters, and the simple, clean language. His idea is interesting to think about, and the book is worth reading. But it wasn't eye-opening for me as such because the situations described (the dirty, impoverished, cruel and unjust face of India) are familiar and things that I have already pondered and mulled over before (and I think most of us have). But I suppose it could be a revelation for people abroad who have no idea that this is how modern India is, too.

It is a realistic depiction, but it is also focused only on shining a torch on these negative sides, and little on beauty and goodness. At the same time, the book is far from depressing; it has energy, and a strange sense of balance and justice. It shows a way (albeit illegal ways--he makes it clear there are no legal ways), for the poor and downtrodden, of breaking out of the 'rooster coop'.

It didn't move me much or stay with me after I finished reading it, though I suppose parts of it will come to mind when I come across scenes or instances talked of in the book. I rate it 3.5 out of 5.


abha said...

Hash, I have not read it, and your review does not propel me towards reading it. How much of India can we take? Yet you give it a 3.5 out of 5, which is quite high I think, if you say he talks of nothing new? On what grounds do you rate it so high then? Is it worth picking up at all?

Waheed said...

Hash, A wonderful well balanced review. I agree with the 3.5 rating. I enjoyed reading it and as an NRI remembered the pitiful state of the 'servants' class' back home.


Hasmita said...

Hi Abha, I do think it is worth a read. It is an intelligent book, and represents the old and the latest sides of India. It is not pretentious and does not say the 'same old things' that many other Indian authors who write for the West do. I dislike those books, and I have no patience with them, but this one is definitely worth a read.

Narayan said...

I just finished reading this book as well, and I loved it for the way the message is presented. It is well written with no sag in the narrative.

Yes, the message is something that we all know. It wasn't as illuminating as say "Everybody loves a good drought" by P. Sainath or "India in Slow Motion", by Mark Tully (both non-fiction).

skanda priya said...

Hey hashu,
I read and liked this book too . The thing with books like this one is that it portrays a negative side of India. But hey, why not? The authors are obviously not claiming to give a balanced picture of life in India.

This is a story from the eyes of a bihari driver ,its not meant to be a description of life in India today. Just as, any story about a kid growing in the ghettos of New york, is not descriptive of life in America.