Author: Aravind Adiga
My Rating: 4.5/5
This book, the winner of the Man Booker Prize 2008 had generated a lot of curiosity among the readers and I was eagerly waiting to get a hand on it too; wanted to figure out if it was just a hype or there was really some substance in it, worthy of the prize. I picked it up in Dec'08 and nearly took a month to finish because of the hectic work schedule, but if I count the actual number of days I read the book, I have probably taken about 4-5 days...
In this debut novel, Aravind Adiga explores the hefty issue of India's class struggles - the unhappy division of the social classes; the social & economic inequalities of the rich and the poor. The plot centers around Balram Halwai, who is born and raised in a remote village in north india which is completely controlled by feudal lords. He finally moves to Delhi as a driver to one of the rich landlord's sons - Ashok, who has returned from America. This is where Balram gets exposed to a completely new set of people, lifestyle, customs etc. and decides that he is not going to live his entire life being a servant. He develops a strong ambition to break out of the 'rooster coop' (the phrase is used as a metaphor by the author thru out the book) and become the white tiger - a symbol of power, individualism & freedom.
After reading the book, I feel it so totally deserved the booker prize. First of all, I loved Adiga's style of writing. Novels which deal with socio-economic inequalities can really get lengthy and boring, but Adiga chose to present it in a totally different style - a way in which the protagonist is narrating his story to the President of China who is in search of Indian entrepreneurs, in the form of letters. Secondly, Adiga has not just accumulated details of suffering or facts in the novel but he has explained it in a very compelling way by creating two disparate worlds that Balram lives in - one in the darkness of his native village and the other is his glittery life in Delhi. He also does present a beautiful contrast between the life in delhi and bangalore, when Balram escapes from Delhi after murdering his master, and becomes and entrepreneur in bangalore (This is not a spoiler, btw :) )
Last but not the least, the view of India presented by Adiga is obivously just one of them. There are many more alternate views of India which are unheard or uncontacted. He does look like a promising author and I am eagerly waiting to read his next book!