Friday, November 14, 2008

Why ? Why ? Why ?

This was the question that came into my mind when I finished reading 'The White Tiger' by Aravind Adiga this week after many in-between pauses. Why did this rather average book get the Man Booker prize ? A point worth commendable about his writing could be his 'observation' on the life around him and how it gets narrated through the voice of Balram. Note the single quote. This is necessary to indicate the narration which the author assumes to be from an Indian background; while in fact most of the time his 'observation' would not make believe an average Indian.

Additionally, the writing is rather too plain and is really a very very light read. When you think about the numerous novels with good English, you wonder what is special about this writing. If you take the other Booker's like The God Of Small Things, Life Of Pi or for that matter the Inheritance of Loss, the language is in a different class of its own, so is the narration. I would not dare to compare this book with 'Midnights Children' - centuries ahead.

Am no literary critic and perhaps someone could clear up my why's. But then, my pea brain never understood why R.K Narayan never received a Booker or a Pulitzer or a Nobel.

Finally what matter here now is the moolah and the sales which comes with the award. Good for Adiga.


Mary Ann Chacko said...

Nitin, it was great to come across your blog! Had a comment about Adiga's novel-
I read Adiga's novel twice, once for leisure and then for a course - Postcolonial Studies in Education. And both times, I was hooked.

I deliberated a lot on this book and these are some of my observations-
Why did Adiga choose to write a book in the form of a monologue by a poor, low-caste driver? Because it is a voice which is often drowned out. After all how many times in our life do we pay heed to what men like Balram got to say. And that also explains the simplicity of the language that Adiga chooses for his novel.
Also I felt that Adiga presents a stark picture of India- India as it might look like for someone like Balram who is shooed out of malls and whose family suffers at the hands of greedy and unscrupulous landlords. We might not connect to this India because we are mostly among those who see India through the tinted glasses of air-conditioned malls.

Yes, Adiga's novel might make many middle class Indians uncomfortable, but the "Land of Darkness" is nevertheless a part of India that exists.

Mary Ann Chacko said...

Hey Nitin, got your reply. Thought I will reply on your blog as we are talking about White Tiger.

Your wrote, "Rather than the storyline, i was refering to the literary depth of a Booker winner. Do you think it deserved it for the writing ? Does that mean any avg harry can win it?"
I thought your had a problem with the story line :) But whether he deserved a Booker is a different question- I wonder how they select a book for a Booker, what politics go into it? But that said I don't feel I am competent to answer that question.