Saturday, 18 October 2008

Read-a-thon: One book down!(The White Tiger)

Wow, I loved being the blogger of the hour together with Chris!
So many of you, thanks so much especially for the Halloween's party suggestions. Some very cool ideas there, I will have to try some.

I've just finished The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. I believe this is the first time I blog about a book I've just finished. I normally have plenty of time to think about what to write. So I'd say I skip "normal" reviews for this Read-a-thon and will just give you a general feel of the book.
The White Tiger was an unusual read for me. At first I had no idea how it was going to be like. You don't get the idea of what the book is going to be about till after few pages...At first you can only understand that an Indian guy is writing a letter to the China's Premier, Wen Jiabao (I had to google his name to check if he is actually the Chinese's Premier!) telling him about the truth about India and about Entrepreneurship. Through a series of seven letters, written during the night, The White Tiger tells him his story. Of how he became the man he is now, an entrepreneur in Bangalore, after being born from a poor family, on a small village along the river Ganga. Of how he managed to escape the Darkness (that's how the area along the river is called) and become the driver of a rich man. And of how he manipulated his future and became a business man.
This is not a pleasant read. It's about the darkest side of India. Its corruption, its poverty, its contradictions. For a while I wasn't sure when the book was supposed to take place. I supposed a long time ago. But then mentions of Internet, Harry Potter and mobile phone brought me back to reality. This is the 21st century India. Not a forgotten past. This is how things work now. I know it's a work of fiction, but as the author said, his fiction draws from the reality he experienced. I hope it wasn't in any way autobiographical though, but only inspired by what he saw.
I could never identify with the narrator. Although you might feel pity for him and for his fate that made him grow up in such poverty, he is a repulsive man, most of the time. He is sly, selfish, unpleasant, a liar with little heart for anyone except himself. He is not the worst man that you'll encounter in the book, no. Unfortunately. The book is full of rich corrupted men who would do anything to keep their power, poor helpless people who can't do anything to change the system, and rich cowards with no guts to say no to what's going on around.
So, it's hard to blame Balram, the narrator, for what he does to liberate himself.
I've read this book was anti-capitalist. It probably is because of the way it reveals India's dirty secrets and because it blames everything on the rich. It didn't have any answer to what could be done, though. It couldn't, because who told the story didn't want to change the system, but only find a safe spot in the world for himself. But you can tell where the heart of the writer is.
So, in conclusion, it was an interesting read. Not my favourite, but definitely worth it. I can't tell if it deserved to win. I haven't read the others and I'm not sure I will.
It sure helped me to understand India a lot more. It felt so drenched in reality I almost forgot it was fiction. It also had the merit to be easy to read. No struggling through the prose here, just straight to business. That's why I could finish it so fast.

That's all. I think I'm ready for something much much lighter now! It's getting dark already here and it's only ten to 7...but still many hours to go!

other reviews:


Michelle at 1More Chapter

Marie at The Boston Bibliophile

Susannah at 7th Decade Thoughts

Karen at Bookbath

Mystic Wanderer at What I Am Reading

Dovegreyreader Scribbles

Raidergirl at An Adventure in Reading

Redhead Ramble


Trish said...

Yay!!! Congrats on the first book down!

Juliann in WA said...

Well done on finishing a hard read.

Anonymous said...

I'm cheerleading my way around the readers - I meant to tell you I love your site design! Good job with the reading! Yay!!

Sandra said...

Great choice, and good job on being able to review it right after reading it. I can never manage that. Happy reading.

valentina said...

thank you guys, we should definitely do this more often!

Marg said...

I really want to read this now, and it fits in with a couple of my challenges!

You are doing a great job so far. Keep up the good work!

Wendy said...

Good review! I'm amazed you could be so coherent in the middle of the Read-A-Thon (and this was a pretty cerebral read for that event too...I usually go for the brain dead reads during the Read a Thon - laughs!). I've added the link to your review to my review....