Friday, January 02, 2009

The White Tiger

The Booker, not at all unlike the Pulitzer for fiction, more often than not goes to perfectly enjoyable, not terribly earth-shattering books that are reviewed as if they're set to blow you away. I'm not saying their bad books. In fact I've loved some of them and liked others. Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy, of which The Ghost Road won the Booker, stands out in my mind as particularly marvelous. But as often as not they leave me thinking, was this really the best book eligible? really? 

Anyway, The White Tiger: It was a fast read--I finished it pretty quickly just reading it on the short subway ride to and from work--and enjoyable enough. But it felt a bit thin. Yes there's a compelling narrative voice and a not great, but interesting enough plot. And it is an aspect of Indian life that's not generally written about. But none of those things make it a great novel. And I'm a little baffled by all the praise for it. The quotes were fantastic. (And yes, reviews can be manipulated to an extent, but pulling quotes for books is something I do regularly and I'm pretty confident that you don't get quotes that good without some fabulous reviews. I wish.) So I expected--or at least hoped--that I would think the book was better than fine, but not so much. Oh well. 

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