Posts Tagged With: politics

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Set in a raw and unromanticized India, The White Tiger—the first-person confession of a murderer—is as compelling for its subject matter as it is for the voice of its narrator: amoral, cynical, unrepentant, yet deeply endearing.

I had been wanting to read this for a long time, and when I came across it in the library I quickly snatched it off the shelf. And boy am I glad I did! The story is narrated by Balram – a boy from the country, as he works his way up the social rankings in India. Yet there is a twist: he is a murderer, and that is how he managed to achieve his current status.

I really enjoyed this book. I liked how the book was set out. It was narrated by Balram in the form of a series of letters. In these letters he explains his life in India. He explains politics and draws sharp comparisons between the poor and rich in his country. I found this a fascinating read – really informative, and I guess quite shocking. The book reminded me of both Q & A by Vikas Swarup and My Father’s Notebook by Kader Abdolah. Although these three books are set in different Middle Eastern countries all of them highlight the differences in the way of life between the upper and working classes; and I enjoyed all three books. They have ignited an interest in me for political novels and novels set in poorer countries.

I can’t say I liked Balram but he was an interesting narrator and he told an interesting story. He is ambitious and gets what he wants – even if murder is his only way forward, and he does not care about others. But I was fascinated by him and his life, and that made the story worth reading.

I really enjoyed this and happily recommend it to others. This is a political novel, not my usual genre, but a novel I really enjoyed.

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New Rules, by Bill Maher

This is a very entertaining, very quick (I read it in one sitting) book, written by Bill Maher, American comedian, tv presenter, writer and social campaigner.

Maher hosts a HBO television show called Real Time with Bill Maher, and New Rules is a segment on that show, in which he comes up with ideas for new rules to help make society run more easily.  This book is a collection of those rules.  Most of them are flippant and funny (one of his new rules involves the idea of Bob Dylan being the ‘voice of a generation’; Maher makes the observation that if a generation could choose a voice, it would pick a better one than Dylan’s – and that is the kind of tone which runs through most of the book). 

However, being a stauch campaigner for the Democratic party – although he did support independent Ralph Nader in the 2004 election – there are a smattering of rules which reflect Maher’s opinion on certain topical issues – stem cell research and same sex marriage, are two examples.  On these matters, Maher drops the flippancy somewhat, and talks passionately about what he believes.

Overall though, this is a funny and light hearted book – with plenty of “He’s absolutely right!” moments.

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