Friday, January 2, 2009

WSJ: Asia's best books, 2008

John Krich compiled the Wall Street Journal's list of Asia's best books of 2008.

One book on the list:
Aravind Adiga

Naturalism, this ain't. Nor is it some schoolboy's tale out of Rudyard Kipling. This comic novel was the winner of the 2008 prestigious Man Booker Prize, more often than not awarded to the most audacious literary work out of the old British Empire (former colonials not merely included but encouraged).

Told in the form of confessional letters to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, "The White Tiger" fairly reeks with claims to show the "real" and decidedly unspiritual India; the self-proclaimed tiger of the title is meant to symbolize the hard-charging and morally unhinged predators driving India's technology boom. (He writes to Mr. Wen because he's about to visit India to examine its high-tech industry.)

Of course, it's brought to you by a graduate of Columbia and Oxford who left India for Australia as a teenager (now 34, he's since moved back).What could be more real than that these days? The prose of the former Time magazine reporter is disciplined and vivid, though hardly up to the gushing poetics of a Salman Rushdie. Still, Aravind Adiga's caustic eye may be just what's needed to capture the cutthroat development of Bangalore and Gurgaon, at least until a local Dickens comes along. And his is one "tiger" worth sighting.
Read about all the books on the Journal's list.

--Marshal Zeringue