March 28th, 2009 at 1:05 pm
I have always sarcastically insisted that in order to achieve any degree of satisfaction, one must lower their standards.
Ignorance is the shortest path to enlightenment.
That is why I did not like The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. My expectations were too high.
The White Tiger won the 2008 Man Booker Prize.
It has been extolled with words like “blistering,” “arresting,” “compelling,” “riveting,” “coruscating,” “Chuck Palahniuk-style,” “Nanny Diaries ironic insider’s look,” and “dazzling.” In fact, the first 7½ pages of the paperback edition I borrowed from the local library were smeared with blurbs.
Am I the only one who hates books prefaced with masturbatory quotes? Who reads book reviews anyway? Losers. Not to mention that The White Tiger comes with a Reading Group Guide and Author Q&A. Blah.
Because of all the acclaim, my standards had been raised. I was expecting to like The White Tiger too.
But I didn’t.
It seems to me that one who would laud this book with all the praise that it has received would need to be significantly naïve and unimaginative.
Individuals, government and businesses are corrupt in India? No way! You mean India is not actually like our conception of it colored by stereotypes of Bollywood, saffron, saris, and yogis?
(When someone says “Indian,” am I the only one who clarifies, “Dot or feather?”)
Who thought India was a magic happy land in the first place? Who actually thought that other countries didn’t also struggle with issues of race and class and family and love and resentment and money and greed? How is The White Tiger groundbreaking? How can we praise this as fresh and bold? Are we really all that clueless?
Not to mention that The White Tiger is written at an eighth grade reading level.
The White Tiger does, however, redeem itself by successfully illuminating a sentiment I can get behind:
“Standing around books, even books in a foreign language, you feel a kind of electricity buzzing up toward you, Your Excellency. It just happens, the way you get erect around girls wearing tight jeans.”
Reading is Sexy.