Re: The White Tiger
Posted by Sterling on 13/9/2011, 21:23:47, in reply to "Re: The White Tiger"
I actually finished this novel several weeks ago. I haven't commented because I am of two minds about it. I found it enjoyable enough to read, but I believe that it is pure satire (and I'm not a big fan of satire.) Like most satire, it is darkly comic without being actually funny, e.g., Swift's A Modest Proposal. The extreme lack of balance, painting India as unremittingly ignorant, oppressive, cruel, and avaricious is consistent with satire. The author can not really afford to allow even a single ray of light into his novel, despite his joking tone. It's not that it is untrue, exactly, but it is skewed to admit only one perspective on a huge and varied nation. |
A minor observation. Ashok's CD collection in his car includes Sting, Enya, and...Eminem. It is as though there is music for each person in the car. The stiff, mainstream "adult contemporary" music of Sting for Ashok, the gooey new age music of Enya for Pinky Madam, and the vicious, anarchic, gallows humor rap of Eminem for Balram. (It is difficult for me to imagine Ashok listening to Eminem, despite his having sold zillions of records Maybe the CD belongs to the Mongoose.)
: There really isn't an issue with spoilers in this novel,
: so perhaps we can proceed with discussion even if
: Sterling and Joffre are still reading.
: I agree with Guillermo that there isn't anything
: remarkable about this novel in the literary sense,
: except that the author finds a way to tell a very
: tragic and hopeless story in a jocular manner.
: Taken individually, the things Balram tells us about
: poverty, class division, voter fraud, political
: corruption, and police corruption in India shouldn't
: be surprising. I wonder, though, if they are as
: pervasive as he implies. Are all police corrupt? Are
: all elections rigged? Is the label we often hear of
: "the world's biggest democracy" a complete
: Two things about his story, though, really surprised
: and depressed me. First, is the ineffectual education
: system with the useless teacher asleep most of the
: time. Even students who are able and willing and have
: supportive families have no chance at a decent
: education in such an environment.
: The other item was that employers hold their
: employees' families as hostages, in a sense, to
: guarantee subservience. They are able, with impunity,
: to persecute the family if an employee becomes a
: troublemaker. Of capitalism's many ills, this sounds
: like the blackest.
: Balram doesn't seek to cast blame for the system being
: as it is, does he? Not on the British or the
: Americans, which is somewhat refreshing.