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Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger: From Zoo to Jungle – Office - SH3011.

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Presentation on theme: "Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger: From Zoo to Jungle – Office - SH3011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger: From Zoo to Jungle E-mail – Office - SH3011

2 How to access these presentations Access the English 1 Blog via the following web- link http://witsenglishi.word http://witsenglishi.word

3 Aravind Adiga

4 Approach to be taken in these lectures Text in Context How and why can sensitive engagement with novel serve as springboard into much wider contextual debates? More substantial sense of what we mean by context – historical, geographical, economic, political, ideological, cultural, literary et al.

5 Key Areas to be covered in lectures 1 st lecture – introduction to Adiga and The White Tiger. Introduce key debates concerning production, consumption and reception of text as well as audience for it. Overview of certain key stylistic/formal features – narrative voice, questions of genre, reliance on certain ‘conceits,’ dominant motifs used to structure the novel et al. Significance of title given to lecture series.

6 Key areas continued Consideration of interdisciplinary appeal of The White Tiger? What does it focus on and why? What features make the novel very much a ‘product’ of the 21 st century? How does it relate to the previous two texts you have looked at this quarter? How do we figure The White Tiger in relation to ‘development’ of Indian-Anglophone literature in late 20 th and early 21 st centuries? The Dark Turn?

7 The White Tiger, p.206 Standing around books, even books in a foreign language, you feel a kind of electricity buzzing up towards you … It just happens, the way you get erect around girls wearing tight jeans. Except here what happens is that your brain starts to hum.

8 Key issues to be considered throughout lectures The White Tiger and the “politics” of literary prizes. Impact of and critical debates sparked by Adiga’s Booker Prize win in 2008. £50,000. The branding/marketing of texts and authors. Cult of literary celebrity? Authors as brands? To what extent does award of such a prize, particularly for a debut novelist (also think of Arundhati Roy), prove help or hindrance?


10 Literary Prizes – The Book as Commodity What are the criteria upon which awards of literary prizes are based? What would yours be? Why are literary “value judgements” often so contested? Literary prizes in the postcolonial era? The politics of cultural redress? Think about winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature over past 40 years. The Empire Writes Back?

11 Communication – The Exploded View Text and technology. Consider key debates concerning ‘print culture’ in novel. Books and electronic communication? The e-mail conceit of The White Tiger – distinctive mode of narrative delivery. What will be the first Facebook or Twitter novel? Adiga and the function of the author webpage. Information – access – technology and the globalized communication

12 Chinese Prime Minister - Wen Jiabao

13 Aravind Adiga’s Official Website http://www.aravind http://www.aravind

14 Aravind Adiga Biographical Information Aravind Adiga was born in 1974 in Madras (now called Chennai), and grew up in Mangalore in the south of India. He was educated at Columbia University in New York and Magdalen College, Oxford. His articles have appeared in publications such as the New Yorker, the Sunday Times, the Financial Times, and the Times of India. His first novel, The White Tiger, won the Man Booker Prize for fiction in 2008. His most recent novel, Last Man in Tower, was published in 2011.

15 Marketing of all subsequent texts in light of 2008 Booker Win?


17 Amitava Kumar in The Boston Review, November/December 2008 “After university [Adiga] returned to India, where for three years he worked as TIME’s correspondent before quitting to write fiction. Adiga told me that his novel is the fruit of his labors as a reporter in India. He traveled to various parts of the country, including places whose backwardness shocked his sensibility. The White Tiger is his rebuke of the cheerful, and false, notion of a new, transformed India.”

18 Impact of Adiga’s Professional Background on The White Tiger Time Magazine’s Asia/India correspondent between 2003 and 2005. What stories are and ARE NOT told, both in fiction and non-fiction? Encounter that provides impetus for novel taking place in Kolkata. Adiga - “Since I knew nothing of a rickshaw-puller’s life, I explained, I would like to meet him every evening, after he was done with his work, for perhaps a week. “You can come for a year if you want,” he said. “No one has ever wanted to talk to me before.”

19 Adiga and the Indian ‘Professional’ Diaspora From article ‘City of the white tiger’ “India, to which I returned in 2003 after 12 years abroad, was a sequence of shocks.” Consider the significance of these New York, Oxford, Delhi negotiations when it comes to thinking of Adiga’s authorial ‘vision’ as evidenced by The White Tiger.

20 Global Poverty Levels

21 Link to Key Preoccupations in The White Tiger Visibility/invisibility Communication/miscommunication Voice/voicelessness Subalternity and silence Revelation/concealment Exposure/evasion One of the most significant of all – 2 Indias in 1 – Light/Darkness

22 From Adiga’s ‘Taking Heart From The Darkness,’ in Tehelka Magazine, Vol. 5, Issue, 38, 27.9.2008 Rickshaw-puller – “This place may seem like an animal’s abode to you, but for someone like me, who has learnt to speak and think in the city, home [a village in Bihar] is darkness: and this Kolkata is like light.” Adiga’s conclusion to article – “I couldn’t convince any newspaper to take my article on the rickshaw-pullers of Kolkata. But in December [2006], when I returned to The White Tiger, what I had heard in that shed in Kolkata came back to me in a flood.”


24 Significance of Titles – Novel and Lectures Importance of animal imagery throughout text. Why? Figurative significance? From Zoo to Jungle. From Darwinism to Social Darwinism – why does this play such an important role throughout The White Tiger?

25 The White Tiger and Questions of Genre Bildungsroman? Black comedy? Crime Novel? Indictment? Literature and the interrogative function? Lament? The Anti-Hero? To be continued …

26 Description of The White Tiger From introduction to Adiga’s article, ‘Taking Heart From The Darkness’ The novel is a “worm’s-eye perspective of the vast class gap in contemporary India.”


28 Literary Influence and The White Tiger? From Adiga’s ‘How English literature shaped me,’ published in The Independent, 17.7.09 “[Agatha Christie] was fascinating for a while, introducing me to the revolutionary idea that a killer could narrate a novel … before she bored me too.” Again, what stories can and cannot be told – AND BY WHOM?

29 From Robbie B. H. Goh’s ‘Narrating Dark India in Londonstani and The White Tiger: Sustaining Identity in the Diaspora,’ published in The Journal of Commonwealth Literature 2011, 46: 237 Discussing more recent Indian English writing and writers – “Indian Anglophone fiction takes as it were a “dark” turn, in which the usual themes (corruption, social injustice, communalism and factionalism) are worked out, but without the accompanying affection for characters and human nature, and the hope for the redemption of the community, that is seen in the older generation of writers in English.”

30 Goh on Arundhati Roy and potential connections with Adiga “In 1997 Roy won the Booker Prize for The God of Small Things – certainly a no-holds-barred look at hypocrisy and social injustice … Like Roy, other liberal and highly-educated Indians, including many in the diaspora, have become increasingly frustrated and increasingly critical of the Indian socio-political condition, their sense of a systemic problem in India overwhelming any sense of optimism and any willingness to romanticize localized events and personalities.”


32 The White Tiger and Its Controversies Language Violence Sex Voice and “authenticity” Critiques of religious and cultural belief systems – Hinduism and the caste system in particular. Interrogative literature and the breaking of taboos? How subversive/transgressive is the book?

33 Mangalore and Outsourcing ‘How English literature shaped me’ – “The world has flooded into Mangalore. India’s great economic boom, the arrival of the internet and outsourcing, have broken the wall between India and the world.” From The White Tiger to Tiger Economies?

34 . [Indian] Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with US President Barack Obama at a G20 meeting From the high growth driven by Asian tiger economies to the emergence of giants India and China, the region has continued to be a centre of immense activity, said Commander of the US Pacific Command, Admiral Robert Willard

35 The White Tiger, p.206 Standing around books, even books in a foreign language, you feel a kind of electricity buzzing up towards you … It just happens, the way you get erect around girls wearing tight jeans. Except here what happens is that your brain starts to hum.

36 Daniel Barenboim, Foreword to Edward Said’s Music at the Limits “The genius attends to detail as though it were the most important thing and, in so doing, does not lose sight of the big picture; in fact, this attention to detail enables him to manifest his vision of the big picture. In music, as in thought, the big picture must be the result of the precise coordination of small details.”


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