I have been meaning to read this book for a long time. It being an award winning book and all. I had a copy but never managed to read it. Finally, thanks to K and his awesome gift of the Kindle, I was able to read it.
The book is an autobiographical tale of a driver - Balram Halwai. He comes from a part of India which he claims to be the 'Darkness'. The story is of his metamorphosis from a quaint villager to cut throat entrepreneur. The book's theme had a lot of semblance with Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance. But while the latter evokes ones sympathy and pathos, this book heckles. The book makes one feel repentant for having the simplest conveniences. The blatant sarcasm in the narrative borders on being psychotic. The journey into the tortured mind of Balram Halwai is not a painless one. It is pure gore as the reader is brought face to face with the everyday torments of an underprivileged person who has masters brutalizing him with tasks, family members eyeing his meagre earnings, peers waiting to pounce and upset his applecart. It is not easy to live a life between the devil and the deep sea with some dragons thrown in for good measure.
The first three quarters of the book are especially engrossing. It is not a fresh tale but the style sure is. The very blatant and rude way in which the words are put are captivating. Somehow the book looses pace in the climax. It becomes a bit pedantic. I think maybe the reader gets used to Balram Halwai's brusque tone so much that even a little dilution in the same seems out of character.
The book is a good read for the way its been written. There have been umpteen tales about the sordid underbelly of India. This is yet another take on it. Go ahead and get tormented.
My favourite from the book :-
I wonder if Buddha walked through Laxmangarh - some people say he did. My own feeling is that he ran through it - as fast as he could - and got to the other side - and never looked back!