by Aravind Adiga
I have recently read “Last Man In Tower” which I found captivating and offered a glimpse into a world previously unknown to me. In “The White Tiger” I found myself drawn into an even more intriguing part of this other world.
This is an extraordinary rags to riches tale that explores the intriguing and often unsavoury world of Indian politics and business. We follow the tale of Balran Halwai as he seeks to fulfil his dream of becoming an entrepreneur.
Told in the form of a letter to the Chines Premier, Balram tells his own tale of how the son of a rickshaw-puller from a backwater village on the Ganges works his way up the ladder to run his own business in the booming city of Bangalore.
Balram is born into a world where his only future is as a beggar or a slave. His life is mapped out for him by his family who take him out of school so he can work alongside his brother in a small tea room. But Balram has other ideas, becoming the driver for one of the local “Landlords”.
He then finds himself driving his new master around the city of Deli where he discovers just how things are done. Seeing his opportunity he does what he has to do to escape.
This is a truly gripping tale from a gifted writer. The insight it offers into the expectations and opportunities offered to the two extremes of Indian society are as intriguing as the plot.
by Gideon Defoe
This is the second of Defoe’s Pirates series I have read (but not the second in the series!). Like the first, it is a fun, easy read. In this adventure the Pirate Captain and his indomitable crew team up with Karl Marx on an adventure that takes them from London to Paris.
There re also cameo appearances from Engles, Wagner and Nietzsche.
Very little high seas action, but plenty of ham, dressing up and philosophising.
These are great little books for anyone who likes their humour slightly off centre and vaguely surreal.
by John O’Farrell
Every now and again you come across a book that engages you completely. For me this was one of those. Not having read any of John O’Farrell’s books before I didn’t know what to expect, but I was not disappointed.
The story begins when our hero, Jack Vaughan, steps off the tube with no idea who he is or where is is supposed to be going. We then join him on a new journey of self discovery as, with the help if his friend Gary, he begins to piece together the story of his life so far.
But Vaughan, as he is known, does not always like what he discovers about himself. It is a very witty book, but also has an underlying message about the difference between the way we see ourselves and the way others see us.
In Vaughan’s case, he has an opportunity to fix some of his mistakes and is able to start again, something I am sure many of us have wished we could do.
An excellent read. A well structured story and a great mix of comedy and pathos.
The only question really is why haven’t I read any of his books before? Must rectify that..