Sunday, October 26, 2008

the-tiger's-tale dept.

This reviewer has, as a rule, refrained from evaluating self-help books, having suffered from a chronic aversion to self-improvement since childhood. However, this year, he feels compelled to make an exception, considering that the honorable jury members of the Man Booker Prize committee have themselves given their nod of approval to this genre of literature. A genre -- one has to say -- that is popular and omnipresent, yet hitherto unfairly ignored by the critics.

The book under examination is The White Tiger : A Novel, written by Mr.Aravind Adiga, erstwhile South Asian correspondent for Time Magazine. Mr. Adiga has written a simple, clear book in a very lucid prose that details quite explicitly for the very first time, a well-defined set of steps by which one may move up the socio-economic hierarchy. Moreover, it builds on a fine Indian tradition of letter writing (please see: Letters From a Father to His Daughter by Mr. J.M.Nehru) -- a rhetorical style that successfully employs correspondence as a means towards advertising one's opinions and ideas.

The book borrows one of its central theses from that other great writer of self-help books, Mr. Mario Puzo (The Godfather, The Sicilian), who so famously quoted Honoré De Balzac: "Behind every great fortune there is a crime". In his book, Mr. Adiga has followed an interesting two-step approach to flesh out problems and solutions relating to the pressing topic of social mobility.

In the first phase, he shows us the psychological makeup and trauma of a repressed individual. Here, we see the social conventions and psy-ops that are used by those up the hierarchy to keep those down below in check. This discussion, although targeted towards the layman and hence presented in a jargon-free and to-the-point style, may nevertheless rival any scholarly tome on this subject.

The second phase however, is what sets this particular book apart from others in its category. For in this phase, Mr.Adiga lays out clearly, the steps one may follow to correct one's position in the hierarchy if one so desires. He describes quite vividly the psychological preparation required for undertaking the necessary action. But importantly, he very clearly defines the steps required, once the necessary psychological preparation is in place. It is the reviewer's opinion that it is this factor which will significantly endear this book to the reading public, and inshah-allah catapult this book to the status of a classic in its genre.

In conclusion, The White Tiger is another classic in the genre of self-help literature, to rival other mainstays of the field, such as How to Win Friends and Influence People, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Getting Things Done and The Godfather. The reviewer expects this book to remain long in circulation considering that the masses would find the concepts and methods discussed therein useful and practical in their daily lives.