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October 14, 2008

The White Tiger Wins The Booker

Soniah Kamal

In reference to my post 'Publishing Now, and Then' sales of Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger should increase even more since it has won the 2008 Booker Prize.

In The Guardian:

Jonathan Ruppin, of the book shop Foyles, said: "This is a refreshingly unromanticised portrait of India, showing that a vast gulf between rich and poor is not an exclusively western phenomenon. It's a very exciting winner for bookshops as it's so commercial." read rest here

There will of course be many who will say The White Tiger won just because the 'West' wants to tarnish the image of India Shining. I found The White Tiger an enjoyable, fast paced read which offered a very real picture of inner India-- indeed inner any country where the rich are very rich and the poor really really poor with not many chances of upward mobility. Also the main character Balram's voice is fun:

from The White Tiger

It is an ancient and veneratedcustom of people in my country to start a
story by praying to a Higher Power. I guess, Your Excellency, that I too
should start off by kissing some god's arse. Which god's arse, though? There
are so many choices. See the Muslims have one god. The Christians have three
gods. And we Hindus have 36,000,000 gods.

And of course in the day and age of 600 page novels it is delightful to come across a short novel. However that said as delightful as brevity can be a short novel is kept short because the author chooses to tell the story from one character's point of view rather than through multiple characters. The White Tiger could have been a much deeper novel had Adiga chosen to tell the story through other characters' perspectives as well as delving deeper into how they have become who they are in the course of this novel, but this is a choice each author makes and the reader can only vote whether the author's choices have whetted their appetite fully: a not too long novel and one point of view versus a much longer read with many characters telling the story at the same time?
In the case of The White Tiger, says a Booker judge:

As Booker judges, though, we are playing the numbers game with other peoples' art, not our own, and although we are doing our best to avoid it, with the pressure mounting it is hard not to feel that size matters. At a judges' meeting this week, as books were mentioned round the table, it was often with a guilty ps, ‘...and it's short' or ‘... but it is rather long.' read rest here

Most review of The White Tiger are raves, but here's a not-rave by Amardeep Singh

Posted by Soniah Kamal at 06:18 PM | Comments (0)