The Unadorned

My literary blog to keep track of my creative mood swings with poems n short stories, book reviews n humorous prose, travelogues n photography, reflections n translations, both in English n Hindi.

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I'm a peace-loving married Indian male on the right side of '50 with college-going children, and presently employed under government. Educationally I've a master's degree in History, and another in Computer Application. Besides, I've a post graduate diploma in Management. My published works are:- (1)"In Harness", ISBN 81-8157-183-5, a poetry collections and (2) "The Remix of Orchid", ISBN 978-81-7525-729-0, a short story collections with a foreword by Mr. Ruskin Bond, (3) "Virasat", ISBN 978-81-7525-982-9, again a short story collection but in Hindi, (4) "Ek Saal Baad," ISBN 978-81-906496-8-1, my second Story Collection in Hindi.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Adiga's White Tiger--Just a Bundle of Stereotypes

In the meantime, I've been able to read just two books: (1) Jhumpa Lahiri's INTERPRETER OF MALADIES, (2) Aravind Adiga's THE WHITE TIGER. Both the books made interesting readings, but I have quite a few quibbles about the latter book. Let me try to enumerate them before I try to write something about the other book "Interpreter of Maladies"
A driver that hails from Bihar murders his employer and escapes with his money. This in itself can make no big story, for it is quite suggestive, mischevously hinting at nothing but a set of stereotypes. But then when one stereotype is matched by another, a plot is built just like that--the culprit goes on to justify his acts of crime as they constitute a special kind of revenge against the rich; the rebellion and the ambition are born out of the heap of feudal exploitation that has everything to do with Bihar social setup, its political deceit and its corruption, its familial exploitation and its societal anarchy. So, should we call it a repeat description of the "Area of Darkness" of Naipaul or of deep poverty and dehumanization of Dominique Lappierre's "The City of Joy"?

The audience is captivated before the story is told. They already know what to expect!

Really, there is no dearth of people to read and marvel at the plot and at the depth of the narratives that Aravind Adiga has served them on a platter. Day in and day out they hear this in the media about the place called "the Darkness". They are not prepared to accept any other version. The author knows that. But he is not just happy having served them the recipe they relish. He goes a step further: he just invites the international audience and invents a format for his vituperation. 'Look, I'm going to tell you a story which you've listened to times without number, but I'll tell it in a different format. And you'll like it. I bet you'll like it.' So he calls no less a person than Wen Jiabao, Premier of the People's Republic of China. An insider is telling a story and so who would not like to lend an ear? And for a Chinese Premier what would sound more interesting when an insider promising to tell the most pathetic story from the knowledge outsourcing hub, the city of Bangalore? Isn't China for its lack of English speaking workforce still lamenting after missing the outsourcing bus? Or at least trying hard to catch up and leave India behind in that lone area where India has made some marks vis-à-vis China?

So, an Indian murderer committing the crime out of his hatred for rich is promising an international communist bigwig that he is going to expose the emptiness of the Indian phenomenon prevalent in the outsourcing city of Bangalore. And finally he cheats his VVIP audience--he does not say anything about Bangalore except how he manipulates a case of hit and run by bribing the police. Huh!

Now just to make a passing reference to the Booker Prize the book has bagged--well, think of Vikas Swarup's "Q & A". Could it have come into the reckoning had it remained just "Q & A"? Perhaps not. The title "Slumdog Millionaire" made it so. As if only dogs are important in India! The audience out there likes to be reminded of a dog when it has to go through an Indian theme. So while choosing an Indian book for an award, what they needed was "Darkness", Naipaul's "The Area of Darkness".
A. N. Nanda



Anonymous nichol said...

Excellent post! I really enjoyed reading it. I will be back for more!

10:49 AM  
Blogger A_N_Nanda said...

Thanx Nichol. I'll look forward to your repeat visits.


8:25 AM  
Blogger maglomaniac said...

Well Mr.Nanda,it was just yesterday night that I finished the book.
Now what I would like to say here is that most of the times we generally see the same whisky in a new bottle but at the end its finally the presentation that takes over.And I must say that Adiga has done a splendid job cause of his taut narrative.It just looks the reader in the eye.I would agree with yoy that Bangalore and out n out entrepreneurship is not what is found but a cow infact a buffalo turning into a tiger is nicely portrayed.I must say that the book is worth the hype.See,sometimes its not great words or super smart language.
The book did wonders cause it told a story when there was none.It was the same old point but told superbly from the eyes of a driver.
I would give it a thumbs up.


8:34 AM  
Blogger A_N_Nanda said...

It's great to see you back here, Harsa.

When I said stereotypes, I meant something like an equation solved for a help book:

Biharis + criminal + Darkness + Bangalore + exposed + China + corruption + shopping malls + NRI + Good literary Agent + big-time publisher = A prize-winner.


8:55 AM  

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