Any book that's won a Man Booker Prize comes with expectations and a certain amount of wariness that stem from past experience of similar genres. Adiga's offering stays true to the expectations - disturbing, hard-hitting, unforgiving and enduring.
Also, one wonders why most books that showcases India in the worst light end up garnering the maximum amount of worldwide attention. (Remember Slumdog Millionaire).
Balram Halwai's s perspective of the terrible world he comes from and the life he lives as a driver-servant in the city, opens up new avenues to comprehend the metaphoric 'darkness' in the lives of the underprivileged populace.
Steeped in irony at every turn off the page, the gruesome imagery ensures that certain scenes stay in the readers' mind for years to come.
Some parts are too grisly to be realistic. The need to shock readers overrides the necessity in the narrative. Do drivers in the city apartment quarters really sleep with scores of roaches crawling over them? One is tempted to check the gross realities for oneself. The scenes where lizards are repeatedly and senselessly crushed to death for no reason leaves bitter scars on the mind.
The novel also opens up the decadent lifestyles and corrupt ways of the filthy rich, devoid of conscience or morality. However, it does seem to justify the ruthless decline of morals of a criminal section of the poor. Balram's braggart tone while recounting some of the horrors is food for thought, indeed. The Chinese connections are interesting.
I rate it 3.9 out of 5. My minus points for excessive and unnecessary gruesomeness in descriptions.
Hope you found my review useful.
Happy reading, readers.