Monday, 3 August 2009

2 reviews: The White Tiger and Mother Night.

Welcome to the Rooster Coop. An incredibly fast-paced coruscating exposure of the neo-liberal development that India has gone through in the last decade.
Taking the form of a monologue (similar to Reluctant Fundamentalist) but as a series of letters to the Premier of China. It reveals early on that the writer has murdered his master - the work builds on this to show how he did this and ended up a successful "entrepreneur" in Bangalore - the ultimate deregulated capitalist city in India.
The casual way the narrator depicts the relentless poverty is very moving - at one point almost as an aside he mentions that he and his brother have been sleeping in the streets in the city. Equally casual is the brutality of the rich - even its more liberal representatives like his direct master and victim.
The build-up to Balram's rebellion/crime is powerfully done and has its own twisted logic. The extensive use of animal metaphors is also powerful: the Roosters, the gekkos, spiders, water buffalos and of course the eponymous tiger. It underpins the basic humanity of the work epitomised by the line "Animals should be animals and humans should be allowed to be humans."
Definitely justified in winning the Booker - but like DBC pierre perhaps surprising that it did. Think unlike Pierre's work though it will mark a long writing career from Adiga.
Not checked it out but I guess this book will be hated by the Indian establishment as it outlines albeit satirically the corruption of the political system, the landlords and masters and the shallow nature of the capitalist "success" within India so often feted in the Western press.
It shows the aspects of Indian life that the vast majority of that society experience - a bit like Slumdog - but with no spiritual or schmaltzy salvation. Some reviews have drawn parallels with Dickens but I saw a lot of Irvine Welsh in here - a voice to the voice-less.

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