This book was the Reader’s Group choice for their Book of the Month in January.
First published in 2008 and winning the 40th Man Booker Prize in the same year. It was a debut novel by Indian author Aravind Adiga.
The novel gives a humorous, although dark side, sight into the Indian class struggle in these times. Balram Halwai tells of his wish to escape his “birth” village to improve his lot in life. He escapes from his family’s expectations by journeying to Delhi. He works for a rich master as his chauffeur learning much about the underworld.
He then flees to Bangalore after killing his master and stealing his money!
The novel explores the Indian issues of religion, caste, loyalty, corruption and poverty.
Balram eventually achieves his ambitions to leave his sweet making caste and becomes a successful entrepreneur establishing his own taxi service.
The novel catches the atmosphere of India, the impoverished areas and the spirit of the diverse classes and castes. It’s a revealing and educational book and is, in turns, amoral, irreverent, deeply endearing and utterly contemporary.
It was loved by most of the group, but not all of them.