Sunday, December 14, 2008

The White Tiger

Lightweight. That was my instinctive reaction to this Booker Prize winner. There was nothing intrinsically wrong with the book, and in fact, I read it in two short sittings, putting it down only to watch the warm up game at the WACA.

However, no major flaws does not a prize-winner make, in my estimation. The tale is appropriately poignant, and that's where it seems to fall down. It's almost as if the entire story is crafted in order to pointedly engage a particular audience, and that manufactured feel is what stopped me from liking it a lot more.

The narrative is solid, and the prose engaging but not spectacular, and anyone who enjoys fueling a stereotype (which may well be accurate, in this case) will appreciate it.

If you are drawn to tales of an exotic yet down to earth reality in which caste, creed and basic human instinct are fundamental, then this is for you. Even more so if that is your carefully cultivated image of the India that you only ever get to see the periphery of, the one that you are sheltered from in your five-star hotel and luxury lifestyle. And that, no doubt, is why Adiga now has the Booker Prize.

Read it. Enjoy it. It's a good book. Insightful, even, if you're not already overexposed. Just don't be fooled into expecting great literature.

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