Monday, July 13, 2009

White Tiger

I bought this book on Saturday morning and I finished it Monday afternoon. Last year's Booker winner "White Tiger" by Arvinda Adiga is just as riveting as Shantaram or  A Fine Balance. It is the story of a driver who works for the son of a rich landlord in the corrupt regions of India around the river Ganga. What struck me is the beautiful narrative of the usually overlooked species on the streets of India- the Driver. It is an enriching account of all the little things these people are in the habit of doing. The way they observe and sometimes even emulate their masters. The way they use all the time they have to spend waiting for their masters to come back from their meetings, shopping sprees or romantic interludes. These little character details make the depressing story a lot more real and even funny. There is also an "Rushdiesh" influence which only ends up complimenting the style.

The story is not anything new. It is the story of a country bumpkin who does everything it takes morally, immorally to make his own space in a country full of people. It is the way it is written that deserves all the praise. Really depressing truths about India and Indian politics have been presented from the eyes of a pragmatic little driver who just wants to make his own life. He never gets shaken from the corruption and the recklessness. He gets used to it and moves ahead. In the end, however turns around and surprises everyone by expressing his own sensitive side that seems never to reflect in his early life.
Adiga's  use of metaphors as well as his plots sometimes melting into poetry reminds you of Rushdie. 

When I finished reading it, I felt the vast difference between the way two people might think of India. How the rich landlord's son, being driven in a Honda City looks at his own life and his country and how the driver who takes him around looks at his own is poles apart! Although they spend all their waking moments being together in the same car. It gradually dawns on you that "class" is the new "caste" in India. The rift between the corrupt rich, the rich and the vast poor is getting bigger everyday. However even in this depressing jungle insignificant drivers are being turned into entrepreneurs every day. At what costs is known best only to those who do it!


शिरीष said...

Thanks for your nice review!
I will buy the book soon.You reminded me of Fine Balance which according to me is one of the best books giving a realastic account of the Indian Urban Middleclass living vis-a-vis the rural folks migrating inIndian cities.
Thanks for making me remember Fine balance.

Saee said...

@ Baba
No worries. :)
Hope you like it.

मकरंद said...

hey whats up?
I read this book in this summer. You are very good reader. and writer also. I read this book but i couldent find words to explain this book to my friends. I will use your words now. :)