Sunday, October 17, 2010

Arvind Adiga's White Tiger - A very good book

I read "White Tiger" over the weekend. Excellent book. I found the book to be different from the stereotypical hi-funda Indian author book. In my mind, there are two categories of books by Indian authors. They are either written in such fantastic English that they become heavy reads. Or, they are stabs at "wit"/different topic that become boring/repetitive by about page 40.

This one is different - the fiction is well-woven into the narrative on India. The setting is not based on confident, resurgent India but on the other India. The author could have gone to town narrating horrifying stories about poor Indians. That would have become repetitive and boring, and in the end left the mind numb to the suffering. Adiga's style of conveying the starkness is refreshing. He has chosen a setting that strikes home because it is very realistic. It strikes at the very root of Indian oppression - the indifference of the urban middle class. And this without sounding sanctimonious and preachy. The pace is good, the book is laced with dark humour. Excellent read overall.

The one comparison that sprang to my mind when I finished reading the book was of this Balachander-kamalhasan movie called Varumayin Niram Sivappu. Awesome movie depicting the struggles of aspiring, educated, unemployed youth in India of the 80's. Stark setting, but one in which the protagonists poverty is depicted without resorting to cheap tricks. One of the best scenes in the movie is one in which the hero and his two friends pretend to be having a big meal while the heroine waits outside in the living room. Awesome scene. A lesson in using humour in critical scenes.

Beautiful movie. No other movie captured the angst of the 80's youngster better, in my view.


  1. We should soon make a movie on the aspiring, educated, underemployed and/or underpaid:)

  2. You might like Adiga's book with short stories in it - "Between the Assassinations". Interesting read.

  3. Granebelf: Investment banker talking about being underpaid. Now, that is irony even Adiga cannot match. :)

    Anuradha: Will try to lay my hands on this book asap. Thanks for this

  4. Loved the book. Love this blog even more! Welcome to the virtual world, Brajesh!