Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Adiga's White Tiger...Author's Pride, India's Shame...

I don't like to keep referring to books that I read because this blog is not about books...BUT just finished reading Arvind Adiga's "The White Tiger" and feel rubbished and roughed up and what not...really, may be writers should have the freedom to write and publish what they want, however writers like these need to be dropped into those dungeons that have no outlets...only entry points through holes in the ground...and oh yeah! drop all the damn books written by them in there as well...right on top of their big fat brainy heads!

Whew! That feels good...actually I could get more violent but don't want to be clapped up in a prison somewhere myself as a potential threat to the author's safety!

I wonder what the author was dreaming when he wrote this book? Is he aiming to become a Voltaire or a Rousseau and incite a modern day Indian Revolution? 

Ok forget his intention...he probably just wrote a story that was sitting in his head slowly driving him insane...may be I should ask what possessed me to pick it up and read it?

To begin with, it is a smart piece of writing worth every penny of whatever the amount of that Booker Prize was. A free flowing, easier to read version of the Dostoevskyian novel...from beginning to end the book screams, everything is because it just is and that's the way it is. Ok...the reader gets it.

What the reader also gets, especially if you happen to be an average Indian is a massive kick to the gut, a bleakness and devastation that is beyond anything you have ever known could exist. When everything from your land to the person next door to you and everything else in your life in your country is presented to you covered with dog shit and arsenic but stinking of selective truth and reality, how do you come to terms with it? 

I finished reading the book at one sitting and came out with a depression so deep, I felt I had finally achieved a state of Nirvana...the nirvana of depression. Then, came the anger. What need for him to fill pages and pages with his sense of hopelessness and flood the markets with it? Yeah I's not his hopelessness, it's the hopelessness of the poor that he's filled those pages with...however what rankles is the finality of the hopeless state. Is that all there is to life and art? A final resting place in the dungeon of despair?

Sure, the protagonist lifts himself out of his miserable state at the expense of one sure death, a few possible ones and maybe a future murder...Is this the best hope a poor man or woman has? If so, do we really need to create a work of art around it? Do we need to normalize it through non-judgmental, "realistic" writing? 

I have no quarrel with the possible reality of the picture portrayed by him. What I couldn't stand was the relentlessness of a single-minded and overwhelmingly bleak narrative that stubbornly refused to inject some sense of hope or beauty into the book. I suppose he can argue that that is how life is for a certain section of society. How real is that? Basic human nature contradicts this. No matter how difficult or harsh the life or circumstances, people find a way to find some relief, some joy, somewhere. Our survival instincts demand this...otherwise mass suicides wouldn't be uncommon. However, in this book, initially the protagonist's  joys are tainted by mere foolishness and stupidity, later by murder. That gets to me, in the entire book, there is no single instance of untainted joy or hope or happiness or even a mere lightness of spirit at any point in anybody's life. This actually makes me question the author's grasp of reality and his claim to have the authority to decipher the "real India" which apparently lies somewhere beyond current economic progress. What does he think is going on here? An economic holocaust? 

My ire boils down to this fact...writing an entire book focussed on one aspect of life, "poverty" and using it as a weapon to strike at the heart of hope and the dream of a decent life in this country is a petty war to wage against one's nation and her people in the name of exposing reality.

To quote Balram, quoting Pinky Madam, "what a fucking joke!". What a fucking joke Mr. Adiga, what a fucking joke! 

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