Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Book Reviews: Tigers, Lexus and more

The White Tiger: Arvind Adiga's first novel which landed him with the Booker Prize. Now i am not judge of the whether he deserves it or not nor am i judge of the novel's literary quotient. One thing for sure, its a hell of a novel. The novel portray's the dark side of India shining. It shows how people trapped in this "darkness" or "chicken coop" remain there forever; accept fate as it is. But this novel is more than that, its a story of those few "White Tigers" , who dream of the "light"; who want to move out of this "chicken coop" and eventually do breakout of it. That what makes this an interesting read. The unlikely rise of a entrepreneur, from being a normal taxi-driver in Delhi to owning an fleet of cars and running a taxi agency in Bangalore.
The style of writing is lucid and the pace is fast. The author describes the grim darkness very neatly, potraying the truth.
A lot of people have been turned off by this novel or say that its showing India in bad light; the reason they say so is because they haven't seen the "darkness" or witnessed someone fight out of this "darkness".
I won't go into the details of the story etc. Find out about it yourself.

The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Thoman Friedman's second book; a prequel to the world famous "The World is Flat" set in the pre-9/11 era. I picked up this book couple of times earlier, got bored; found it irrelevant and never went beyond a couple of chapters.
I picked this book again with an aim to finish it. The book suddenly turned out to be quite interesting, and very relevant in today's economic turmoil (Nope, doesn't give any insight into Raju's Books though) . This book tells us about how the foundation stones of current crisis were laid. Not only that it even predicts such a downturn as a possibility. If you want to know about Globalization; its roots; how it all began, then this is surely a good read. The stories and incidents that the author narrates are very interesting and fun to read. It talks about the pros, and cons of Globalization. Mostly pros though. Why some countries/people are against it or are even angry because of it. How most people in developing countries misunderstand "Globalization" for "Americanization" How companies/countries are adapting to it and so on. Sometimes though the book gets repetitive and boring; though overall the style of writing and his interactions with people world over make it worth a read.
Why the name, one might ask? The Lexus, Toyota's luxury brand denotes one end of the world where Globalization has been accepted while the Olive Tree represents the other extreme where people are fighting for gaining control over others' olive trees and protecting their own; where globalization treated as new word for US imperialism.

Q and A: Vikas Swarup, an Indian Diplomat's first novel. The story of an ordinary waiter who wins a million dollars on a KBC type quiz show. The producers think its a fraud. How can a waiter know the answers to tough General Knowledge questions. He says he just knows those answers. Not by luck, not by guessing. He just knew those answers. How did he know this answers, well thats what the book about. His life story; his experiences and his encounter with various type of people from which he came to know the answers to the GK questions. The book has similar undertones as the White Tiger about Dark India. What makes the book different is that ; although the certain description of people and places are life like, overall its pure fiction with twists and turns and a stunning ending. Yes, fit to be made into an movie.
The movie is already made. This book inspired the multi-award winning "Slumdog Millionaire" movie. The book again is fast paced and the style of writing easy. The author has focused on the characters and their emotions and less on the surrounding and the situation, making it a quick read.
Incase you are looking for some action on a lazy Sunday afternoon; chuck the TV and pick up this thriller.