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White Tiger? Booker Prize?

Book review: [164] White Tiger, Aravind Adiga

Despite critics from all over are shocked at Aravind Adiga’s surprise winning of the Book Prize, I have taken up The White Tiger. Eileen Battersby at the Irish Times comments about his “surprise victory” of winning the award for this novel. She further notes that Adiga’s win “left the literary establishment gasping, perhaps even bewildered.” Whether the book is crude and opportunistic as Miss Battersby has deemed, it is definitely an eclectic read, I mean, somewhat weird.

Balram Halwai tells the transfixing story, which is meant for Chinese Premier (god knows why) Wen Jaobao, of how he came to the success in life with his own wits. But he is a murderer who cuts off his employer’s neck. He recovers his story over seven nights under this preposterous chandelier that barely fits his room. Anyway, when he was a boy, his family took out a huge loan to finance his cousin’s wedding. Taken out of school he had to break coals for a living. being the brightest kid in school, he was dubbed the White Tiger:

The inspector pointed his cane straight at me. “You, young man, are an intelligent, honest, vivacious fellow in this crowd of thugs and idiots. In this jungle, you are the rarest of animals—the creature that comes along only once in a generation.”
He paused.
“The white tiger.” [30]

Adiga’s message isn’t subtle or novel, but Balram’s appealingly sardonic voice and acute observations of the social order are very unsettling. So far it’s a bit weird and shaky. Booker Prize?

The Short List:
Aravind Adiga The White Tiger (Atlantic)
Sebastian Barry The Secret Scripture (Faber and Faber)
Amitav Ghosh Sea of Poppies (John Murray)
Linda Grant The Clothes on Their Backs (Virago)
Philip Hensher The Northern Clemency (Fourth Estate)
Steve Toltz A Fraction of the Whole (Hamish Hamilton)

7 Responses

  1. I as an Indian should feel good that Adiga won the Booker. But I don’t.

    I can’t even begin to tell you the reasons…

    You know, Matt, for Indian writers…Writing about utter poverty in India sells abroad. My point is, what are THESE writers doing to eradicate it?

    I feel truly bitter.

    Please click on my name to read something I wrote on my other blog today.

  2. […] Tagged books, Literature, Publishing, reading, Twenty-first century novel, writing Like many, I imagine, Mathew questions why The White Tiger won the Booker Prize: […]

  3. gautami:
    Just like a Chinese author writing about cultural revolution and Tiananmen Square in 1989. They surely get all over the radar but then what’s next?

  4. Luminog:
    Actually I’ve been a follower of Ghosh’s novel. I have enjoyed The Glass Palace so much that no sooner has Sea of Poppins come out did I get it from the store, even if it’s a hardback! I can’t help thinking how much politics, and I don’t just mean the global politics, but politics of publishing, factors into who will be recipient of these awards. That’s is the possible reason of why Salmon Rushie has only been long-listed—he’s already got too popular.

  5. […] success of Slumdog Millionaire, I think White Tiger by Aravind Adiga would also stand a chance. The Booker Prize winner of 2008 has boosted traffic to my blog big time with overall 3300 […]

  6. he is so cute

  7. […] White Tiger, Booker Prize? (12369) [173] The Boy in the Striped Pajamas – John Boyne (2313) [92] A Separate Peace – John Knowles (2292) SF GLBT Film Festival: Solos (1945) Mama Mia!: The Film (1801) [185] Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston (1426) [70] The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov (1407) [95] The Stranger – Albert Camus (1328) [183] Beloved – Toni Morrison (1274) Beijing 3: Forbidden City (1119) […]

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