Tag-Archive for ◊ New Delhi ◊

Author:
• Sunday, October 21st, 2012

Aravind Adiga was born in 1974 in Madras, now Chennai, India. He grew up in Mangalore where he went to Canara High School. In1990 he graduated from St. Aloysius High School in Andhra Pradesh. He emigrated in the 90s with his family to Sydney Australia and continued his studies in St. James Ruse Agricultural High School in Sydney, followed by English literature at Columbia College, Columbia University in New York City, graduating in 1997. He also studied at Magdalen College, Oxford. Starting his career he worked as a journalist for the Financial Times and Time Magazine.

Aravind Adiga lives in Mumbai, India and has written three novels to date:
Last Man In Tower, published in 2011.
Between The Assassinations (short stories/essays) published in 2009.
The White Tiger, his début novel, published in 2008, has sold many copies in several countries – won the 2008 Man Booker Prize for fiction and will be made into a film.

The story of The White Tiger is narrated during the course of seven nights as a series of letters addressed to the Chinese Prime minister, Wen Jiabao, who was visiting India at the time. The narrator is the novel’s main protagonist, the astute, determined, hard working, Balram Halwai. The Chinese premier wants “to meet some Indian entrepreneurs and hear the story of their success from their own lips.”

Balram writes the letter to Wen Jiabao from his 150-square-foot office, which is the only one in Bangalore“with its own chandelier”. The letter is about Indian entrepreneurship and explains that, despite the servitude, destitution and corruption prevailing socially and politically in present-day India, there is still some integrity to be found and some hope for mankind.

Balram Halwai writes about how, according to his school teacher, despite being gifted with an intelligence as rare as the white tiger, he couldn’t pursue his studies. He is born into an impoverished family and has to do menial work in the village tea shop. Nevertheless, he aspires to a better future than his father, the rickshaw puller, who died of tuberculosis in extreme poverty.

The highly ambitious Balram tries to improve his status by becoming a driver/servant to a rich landlord from his village as a first step to climbing the ladder to a better life. He wants to prove that he is indeed a rare feline species, an atypical Indian who refuses to perpetuate or be part of the “Rooster Coop” establishment, as he calls it metaphorically. His aim is to break the Indian ingrained class boundaries taken for granted by society from top to bottom and find a way out of this ambit to freedom.

Throughout the narrative the story changes rapidly, especially after Balram travels with his employer to New Delhi. The big capital becomes more of an eye-opener for the countryman that he is and makes him firmer in his beliefs, while kindling his desire for a brighter life. He becomes a “Thinking Man”, a sort of a philosopher, a thief and a murderer, before ending up as an amoral, successful entrepreneur in Bangalore.

He fulfils his ambition by becoming the proud owner of a taxi service through his auspicious Machiavellian plan of killing his master and stealing his money to finance his long coveted project – the White Tiger by now knows the law of the jungle. Balram watches his employers and proves to be a fast learner and a good observer, he becomes aware that in a corrupt society bribes are the only means to a successful business.

There are two phases in the novel, two different worlds: the rural dreary “Darkness”, the name given to a grim and rustic small village where Balram spent his young years in poverty before moving with Ashok, the young son of his employer, to the stimulating “Light” of the vibrant capital, New Delhi. In New Delhi he finds to his amazement the same constrained opportunities in the conventional, “Rooster Coop”. The wide breach he left behind, impersonated in the masters and chauffeurs/servants, is whirling around him. Even in this big city there is no escaping from class hierarchies and injustice.

The author is describing the current India and the considerable differences between the poor, backward rural areas and the advanced big cities. Through his writing the reader can detect his indignation, exasperation and concern about this important problem which might lead to an explosion one day if it is not addressed soon.

Aravind Adiga, tackles an array of subjects about Indian society. There is the caste system, the multiple religions and sects, the family ties and duties, democracy, corruption and advanced technology.

Balram Halwai, the main character, is interesting, witty and captivating, despite cool-bloodedly murdering his employer who treated him well. Nevertheless, in spite of his grim future in an unjust society maintained by the conservative mentality of people, is his act justified or even excusable? Couldn’t he find another way to attain his bid for autonomy without resorting to drastic measures? Knowing that reprisals will be swift on his family who will be killed because of his deed, as is customary in his village, are we to look upon him as a utopian, a rebel, a visionary or a common ruthless rogue, a social Machiavellian climber?

Through his main, cynical protagonist, the author is addressing the imperative future adjustments that have to be made in India, between the haves and the have nots. The well-being of citizens needs to be part of the economic prosperity of a country, as Balram says very succinctly to Wen Jiabao: “Never before in human history have so few owed so much to so many”.

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Author:
• Saturday, October 24th, 2009

Abha Dawesar was born in New Delhi, India, in 1974. She obtained a degree in philosophy from Harvard University and started a career in finance which she had to forgo when her two novels, Miniplanner and Babyji became great successes.

Abha Dawesar received the Lambda Literary Award in 2005 and the American Library Association’s Stonewall Award in 2006. She was also awarded a Fiction Fellowship in 2000 by the New York foundation of the Arts. Abha Dawesar lives in New York.

Due to her young age, her bibliography is short, but acclaimed by critics.
She published Miniplanner in 2000.
Her second novel Babyji was published in 2005.
That Summer in Paris was published in 2006.
Family Values was published in 2009.

Abha Dawesar is a self taught video maker and a visual artist. Her photographs have been exhibited in New York City.

That Summer in Paris is the story of a successful, Nobel prize winner, seventy five-year-old Indian writer, Prem Rustum who discovers that his life is nearly over without him seeing the years passing. He realises that he has spent too much time writing novels. In spite of his old age he hasn’t given up on love and decides to rest his pen and enjoy the few years left for him to live, preferably with a charming female soul mate.

Searching on Internet under his name, he discovers unexpectedly messages from one of his admirers, Maya; an intellectual, ambitious, twenty five year old aspiring writer, who admits openly on the web her admiration and passion for his work. He decides to meet her. They felt captivated by each other’s charm straight away and on a whim Prem decides to follow Maya, from New York to Paris, where she has a writing fellowship. The unconventional, uneasy relationship between the two main characters begins.

Prem’s love for Maya will make him reminisce over his old incestuous love with his older sister Meher, to his sensual experience with the two sixteen-year old French girls and will confront him with his rekindled desires and his approaching mortality. The theme of life and death mentioned in the novel, is a subject which Dawesar is obsessed with, as she mentioned it in one of her interviews.

For the romance to take place the author couldn’t have chosen a better clichéd place than Paris, the most beautiful and romantic city in the world, which Dawesar is very found of and visits often. The very meticulous description of the people, the paintings, the city’s streets, restaurants and French gastronomy, the various attractions and art galleries, transports the readers into a different world of romantic fantasy, but also a meditation about ageing, passion, achievement, literature and art.

The detailed and explicit descriptions of the sex scenes are gratuitous, perverse and crude, it undermines an otherwise good story about lost love, relationships and the beauty of how art can influence love and love, art. Which promotes the immortality of real love and genuine art. In her endeavour to sex-up her story, Dawesar belittles the interesting and numerous discussions between Prem, his Parisian friend, Pascal Boutin, the famous novelist and Maya his muse.