Vellakaduva: Translation of Aravind Adiga's White Tiger by M.S. Nair: DC Books, DC Kizhakemuri Edam, Good Shepherd Street, Kottayam-686001. Rs. 150.
The prestigious Man Booker Prize-winning book, White Tiger, is about the shocking deprivation that stalks India's rural hinterland. The novel makes good reading in Malayalam, despite much of the original fervour being lost in translation.
White Tiger is in the form of seven letters written on seven nights by Balram Halwai, “a self-taught entrepreneur of Bangalore”, to Wen Jiabao, Chinese premier (who was scheduled to visit India), narrating his life-story.
Balram is the son of a rikshaw puller from Uttar Pradesh and, after his father's death, he plans to escape from the village. Taken out of school (where he is ‘white tiger'), he is made to work in a tea shop and later he lands the job of driver in the household of a rich village landlord. Subjected to extreme oppression and exploitation, he kills his employer, gets away with a huge amount of money, and sets up taxi business in Bangalore.
The book raises the question, whether a despicable man like Balram — corrupt and a murderer — will, if he gets a chance, behave in the manner he did when a poor boy is killed, hit by one of his cars?
The narrative is satirical as it tells the story of the dark India, “free of charge.”
The translation is mechanical and unable to bring out the nuances of the brilliant novel.