'My book highlights brutal aspects of India'

PTI | By, London
Oct 17, 2008 12:49 PM IST

Aravind Adiga, winner of this year's Man Booker Prize for his debut novel White Tiger says his novel highlights the brutal injustices of changing India, which is on the verge of inheriting the world from the West.

Aravind Adiga, winner of this year's Man Booker Prize for his debut novel White Tiger says his novel highlights the brutal injustices of changing India, which is on the verge of inheriting the world from the West.

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Adiga's novel is creating ripples in India for its defiantly unglamorous portrait of country's economic miracle.

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Refusing that the novel was an attack on the growth story of the country, Adiga said writers like him should highlight the brutal aspects of India.

"At a time when India is going through great changes and, with China, is likely to inherit the world from the west, it is important that writers like me try to highlight the brutal injustices of society," he said, adding that the criticism by writers like Flaubert, Balzac and Dickens of in the 19th century helped England and France become better societies.

"That's what I'm trying to do - it's not an attack on the country, it's about the greater process of self-examination," the writer told Gaurdian.

According to the writer, the challenges that are holding India back are corruption, lack of health services for the poor and the presumption that the family is always the repository of good.

"In India, there has never been strong central political control, which is probably why the family is still so important. If you're rude to your mother in India, it's a crime as bad as stealing would be here," he said.

"But the family ties get broken or at least stretched when anonymous cities like Bangalore draw people from the villages," the author said.

"These really are the new tensions of India, but Indians don't think about them. The middle classes think of themselves still as victims of colonial rule. But there is no point any more in someone like me thinking of myself as a victim of colonial oppressor.

"India and China are too powerful to be controlled by the west any more. We've got to get beyond that as Indians and take responsibility for what is holding us back," Adiga said.

The writer left for Mumbai on Thursday after winning the Man Booker award on Tuesday night for his debut novel The White Tiger, which reportedly blew the socks off Michael Portillo, the chair of judges.

When asked about his reason behind writing a novel about the experiences of the Indian poor, the Chennai-born writer said, "I don't think a novelist should just write about his own experience. Yes, I am the son of a doctor, yes, I had a rigorous formal education, but for me the challenge as a novelist is to write about people who aren't anything like me."

"This is the reality for a lot of Indians and it's important that it gets written about, rather than just hearing about the five per cent of people in my country who are doing well," the writer said.

Adiga conceived the idea of the novel while travelling in India while working for Time magazine. "I spent a lot of time hanging around stations and talking to rickshaw pullers and their intelligence impressed me.

"...They are witty, acerbic, verbally skilled and utterly without illusions about their rulers," he said. (More)PRI

'The White Tiger' is the story of Balram Halwai, who narrates his story to the Chinese premier Wen Jiabao through the letters he writes, but doesn't post. Wen Jiabao is poised to visit India to learn about why the country is so good at producing entrepreneurs.

Balram presumes to tell him how to win power and influence people in the modern India, which is a tale of bribery, corruption, skulduggery, toxic traffic jams, theft and murder.

Halwai has come from what Adiga calls the darkness, the heart of rural India - and manages to escape his family and poverty by becoming chauffeur to a landlord from his village, who goes to Delhi to bribe government officials.

"In somewhere like Bihar there will be no doctors in the hospital. In northern India politics is so corrupt that it makes a mockery of democracy.

"This is a country where the poor fear tuberculosis, but people like me - middle-class people with access to health services that are probably better than England's- don't fear it at all. It's an unglamorous disease, like so much of the things that the poor of India endure," says Adiga.

Adiga has written his second novel but said he would not talk about it.

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