India through the eyes of Balram Halwai, one of those characters that make a book worth reading.
This is a book about India, its main character being just the tool to draw a dark, pesimistic but at the same time humorous portrait of the Asian nation.
Balram Halwai, a social entrepreneur as he calls himself, is the protagonist of this story about class struggles, traditions and the apparent ruthlessness of the ruling classes in India.
Aravind Adiga uses a shocking artifact for his narrative. The novel is written as a letter to the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, in itself a sarcastic blow to India’s self appointed position as the world’s largest democracy.
Balram narrates his evolution from a low caste servant to a successful Bangalore entrepreneur with a mixture of dark humour and contained rage. His personal changes epitomize the vicious circle dominating Indian society. He does not question the system, he is drawn into it, into the corruption that pervades all levels of the administration, into the serfdom that dominates the relationship between the middle class and their servants.
Aravind Adiga uses a simple style, making sure that Balram comes across as a street-wise survivor, a good listener as he describes himself. Adiga’s use of the concept “entrepreneur” applied to Balram is very interesting. He makes mockery of the entrepreneurial new India, capable of handling the whole world’s outsourcing projects but unable to provide its citizens with basic services. And he applies a second meaning to the word, that of the social entrepreneur, the man who disrupts not only the caste system, but particularly the semi-slavery system of the servants in India, although to do so he must reach the same levels of ruthlessness of his masters.
Aravind Adiga shows a real India, less poetic than for instance Rohinton Mistry’s, but eaqually powerful.