Slam India, Win Booker: Right or Wrong?

Posted on May 7, 2010

Soumya Venugopal:

Though the black title on the white cover looks appalling for my feminine sensibilities, a little note in the corner which read Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2008’ caught my attention. Not that it did not allure me these two years, but it was its obnoxious price that put me off. Now that the glorious paperback found its way amidst old copies of Sidney Sheldon’s and Jeffry Archers, all waiting to be taken home for 100 rupees each, I made my pick. ‘The White Tiger’ entered my shopping bag from the pavement of M.G. Road in exchange for a 100 Rupees. (Being a student one has money constraints…. Apologies for encouraging piracy)

From line one, the book seems to be seriously anticipated for a Booker. In the first ten pages, the author sets the mood for the Booker Jury. The protagonist here seems to be God fearing Indian. He starts off saying:

“It is an ancient and venerated custom of people in my country to start a story by praying to High Power. I guess, I too should start of by kissing some God’s arse. Which God’s arse though? There are so many choices, Muslims have one God, Christians have three, and we Hindus have 36,000,000 Gods making a grand total of 36,000,004 divine arses for me to choose from. So, I’m closing my eyes, and praying. Bear with me. This could take a while. How quickly do you think you could kiss 36,000,004 arses.”

And for the information of simpletons and purists who believe in proper English, ‘Arse’ is not a word. But the slang’ers know it well. Google search says, ‘Arse’ means the fleshy part of the human body that you sit on or excretory opening at the end of the alimentary canal.

Now pull back your eye brows. They have passed beyond your hairline. It may hurt your facial muscles. And we are yet on the 8th page of the Booker winner.

After paying his due respects to the Indian Gods from a ground-breaking angle, our author proceeds with the story. The story of murderer son of a ‘high caste’ rickshaw puller ending up as an entrepreneur in Bangalore. He was incidentally named by a school teacher and actually does not have a name because his parents did not bother to give him a name. Tch..tch..sad sad. Poor Indians….they don’t even name their children!

The writer evokes this Tch, sad, oh my God! ‘feel’ of Western Jury in the first 10 pages which prepares them to give thumbs up to the book. This very degradation of India makes the jury pass the book with an A+ grade. The eye popping portrayal of our dirty nation, our dim-witted religion and senseless practices, worthless culture, poverty, revolting behavior, non-existent infrastructure, corrupt politicians, police and judiciary, prostitution, call centers, lack of morals, hygiene, discipline and sense of privacy, lack of courtesy and punctuality, our pitiful election system, corruption, even the problem of inter-caste marriage, and what not fills the rest of the pages. Bravo!! You get an exotic Indian tale!! What else can a Western intellect ask for?!?!

I will definitely not discuss the story or literary merits of Booker Winner ‘The White tiger’ because it simply is not worth it. Who cares about the story anyway. To sum up the book, I would say, my entire day was wasted in disparagement.

Only good thing about it is, it dawned upon me that getting a Booker Prize is easy for Indian Authors. All it requires is a little knowledge of English which is to be used liberally to criticize and abuse everything that is ‘Indian’. After all, we are a free nation with a fundamental right to speech and expression.

Going a little back in time, another Booker Winner Arundhati Roy in ‘God of Small Things’ touched ‘slam India’ cords in small measures with the untouchables, caste system and mockery on Indian communism. Kiran Desai in ‘Inheritance of loss’ frisked the readers through insurgency in Himalayas and the eccentricity of a Cambridge educated Indian vis-à-vis his supposedly minuscule racial identity. Another celebrated author of Indian origin Jhumpa Lahari, the Pulitzer Prize winner who specialized in writing stories of immigrant Indians to the West made her mark too, in enthusiastic Western minds who love to relish Indian crap.

Now coming back to the author of White Tiger, this gentleman Aravind Adiga born to doctor parents in Chennai, brought up in Mangalore and educated from Columbia University and Oxford is a journalist by profession.

When asked about how it feels getting the Booker, he replies, “I live in Mumbai, where not many people know of the Man Booker Prize; I’m still standing in long queues and standing in over-packed local trains in the morning and worrying about falling ill from unsafe drinking water”.

And he was worried about safe investment of his $ 50,000 booker prize money because there are not many trustworthy banks in India… Sigh…

On scale of 1 to10, I would give the book “The White Tiger” 1.5 for literary merit and minus 100 for blasphemy towards Indians and India.