When Aravind Adiga’s debut novel The White Tiger won Booker prize in 2008 he became the fourth Indian to take this coveted position along with Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy and Kiran Desai. From a journalistic approach he has crafted with clarity the social, economic, political, religious and cultural differences of Indian economy. The “light” opulence grandeur of haves and the dimming “darkness” of have-nots are the main themes.
In the form of a letter to Chinese Premier the protagonist Balram – the chauffeur narrates his transformation from ‘darkness’ to ‘light’. In stark contrast to ‘light’ ‘potbellied’ prosperous city life, he pictures the crude, dark village life. The terms ‘darkness’, ‘dark skinned’, ‘country mouse’ brings in the roughness of the rural area, where water buffaloes are fed regularly and not the kids, the destined disease of rickshaw pullers and their pathetic death in the dirty hospital pavement, the dead bodies floating on ‘black’ river Ganga… “I’m leaving that river for the American tourists!.”
His novel depicts the bleak, blatant error of globalization where corruption and injustice rules the day. The demeaned human values, ‘taking the golden haired woman’ , ‘like a guilty little boy’, Adiga coined ‘dip my beak’ to explain this other side of man. The down-trodden are still the ‘dirty grimed faced’ ’who live under the flyovers and bridges, ‘small black thing’ for affluent masters. He exposes the politically corrupt politicians who are bribed in ‘red suitcase’. As the novel progress Balram himself becomes a victim of this social disorder when he kills his master and leaps to the world of ‘stork’, ‘Wild boar’ and ‘raven’ entrepreneurs.
Adiga’s novel may sound familiar to us. There is no poetry, no flowery language, no unnecessary adjectives used. In plain simple prose he portrays – an absolute satire in a highly sarcastic tone. Is this a mirror shown to our society?