The White Tiger - This book,in the words of the protagonist The White Tiger-Balram Halwai,is "what a fucking 'jokes book'!". Balram had learnt this phrase "what a fucking joke" from his ex master ashok's wife pinky.
I read this book buying a original copy bearing ISBN code 978-81-7223-745-5, even though pirated books were already available in the market. The inside cover page tells that this is a story of a driver Balram halwai, The white Tiger, a servant, philosopher, enterpreneur, murderer. The story is made up of the letters written by Balram to Premier of China who was due to visit India. Most of the content of these letters is reserved for describing 'corrupted' India in a very humorous way.To quote a few "Hillarious" lines from the book:
(Warning: These are generally found humorous when read in the context rather stand alone)
1.The book starts with a biggest joke calling "Beijing" a capital of the "freedom" loving nation china!
2. Looking at a wanted poster of a murderer(himself), Balram comments that "The photo resembles half of the Indians"!! And when he describes an incident where he converses with a person staring at this poster in railway tation makes you laugh more.
3.Balram tells he does not deny that he is a murderer, but "what a fucking joke" to be called a murderer by an Indian policeman?
4."I wonder if buddha walked through Lakshmangarh (Balram's village)- some people say he did. My own feeling is that he ran through it- as fast as he could - and got to the other side - and never looked back. (This is how Balram describes his corrupted village).
and many more!
There are also some poor statements where author tries to add humour,but fails to do so.
Jokes apart, the philosophy of the book as i see is 'freedom'.The story is mainly about how the servant Balram gets liberated from his master.The inside cover says, "Balram's journey from darkness of village life to the light of enterpreneuril success is utterly amoral, brilliantly irreverent, deeply endearing and altoghether unforgettabe." I agree to the fact that the philosophy the story gives out is amoral and irrverant, but not endearing and also is easily forgettable.
The book also brings out, how the rich treat their servants, how the recruited driver does not just remain a driver but servant of the landlord, how all the drivers spend their time when their bosses are not around.The author tries to portray the struggle of a Indian, hit by poverty, during the course of which he resorts to corruption.He also brings out hard truths of life in rural India.We have seen enough of these stuff in movies.If the author could have thought of a good plot for the murder, the story could be easily turned into a thriller.A reader will definitely feel that murdering is not so easy.
I thoroughly feel this is a kind of book which gives relief from its comedy.But not one of its kind to store in your book shelves.
Some critics have argued that, the book which brought out only negative aspects of India to the world, should not have been awarded The Booker.Some say, it has been awarded Booker for its negative description of India and people outside India like it. But I do not agree that world does not know about negative side/corrupted ways of life in India! There are lot of movies,newspaper articles which hold out this fact to the world.Which country is free from corrupted police officers/judges? The degree of corruption might vary!
I do not know the criteria for awarding the Booker prize, nor haven i read books by the Booker prize winners.So i guess the book might have been awarded Booker for its hillarious comedy.
Out of curiosity, to know how better the other Booker winning books are, i have started reading winner of "Booker", "Booker of Bookers", "Best of Booker" - Midnight's children by Salman Rushdie".
Have you read The White Tiger?What dou you think?Do leave your comments below.