My SCRAPBOOK (సేకరణలు): A COLLECTION of articles in English and Telugu(తెలుగు), from various sources, on varied subjects. I do not claim credit for any of the contents of these postings as my own.A student's declaration made at the end of his answer paper, holds good to the articles here too:"I hereby declare that the answers written above are true to the best of my friend's knowledge and I claim no responsibility whatsoever of the correctness of the answers."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Triumph of the tiger

(Editorial , The Hindu, 16:10:2008)

The Booker for 33-year-old Chennai-born Aravind Adiga’s debut novel is yet another big win for Indian literary writing. The White Tiger is a stark tale of modern India in which the flawed narrator, Balram Halwai, son of a rickshaw puller, makes the unlikely journey from the darkness of rural India to dubious entrepreneurial success. The novel, a trenchant critique of contemporary India, bypasses the superlatives of the economic boom to tell the story of an India that is savage and dark. It strips away the veneer of a shining nation to reveal a society that is mired in corruption and injustice, where the poor are invariably the victims of a brutal class system. The White Tiger is a brilliant and unflinching vision of modern India — presented in the form of seven letters to the visiting Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao by the murderous protagonist before a highly sanitised state visit. Through Balram’s personal story of murder and uncertain success, we are drawn into the vortex of India’s underbelly where, as the narrator says, “The story of a poor man’s life is written on his body, in a sharp pen.” It is precisely this perspective, “the dark side of India,” which according to Michael Portillo, chairman of the five-member panel of judges, “was entirely new territory.” Clearly, the book’s “originality” set it apart from the others on the shortlist. Mr. Portillo revealed further that Mr. Adiga’s book was chosen because it “shocked and entertained in equal measure,” successfully engaging the reader with a “thoroughgoing villain” and dealing with social issues with “astonishing humour.”

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction, which is in its 40th year, is one of the literary world’s most prestigious awards. It has had its share of controversies, which have ranged from questions about the specific literary merits of books on the short list to the political predilections of judges and authors. Apart from driving up the sales of prize-winning books and indeed those on the shortlist, the Booker is the kind of accolade that can turn a really good book into a classic. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Adiga was seen as something of a dark horse in a race in which Philip Hensher’s The Clothes on Their Backs, Sebastian Barry’s The Secret Scripture, and Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies were fancied. The debutant’s novel beat the odds with its unusual voice and its unsparing vision of an India that many may prefer not to see. The White Tiger is a stunningly brave narrative of our times and its triumph is well deserved.




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