Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Aravind Adiga

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Aravind Adiga

Article excerpt

In both your Booker winning debut, The White Tiger, and new book, Last Man in Tower, you analyse the depredations of India's dash for growth. Is that how you see it?

I don't see myself as criticising what is happening in India. India and China, both ancient civilisations, are becoming new kinds of nation state. This is happening through processes that a columnist might write about - global trade, civil society, law and order. And it's also happening through the release of tremendous amounts of amoral energy, that of new kinds of entrepreneurial figure. My position is chronicling this as a writer, and it's perhaps different from the kinds of fiction in English we've had from India before. I find some of that a bit sentimental.

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Does it frustrate you when your novels are treated as arte facts of social criticism rather than as fiction?

To some extent, yes. I didn't intend with this new book for there to be an obvious message, or any obvious resolution to the problems. I'm in two minds about what's happening. I grew up in a very different India. My life then was very much structured around shame and guilt; it was a very conservative society. But that India has gone.

You said there's no obvious hero in this book. Doesn't Masterji count as one?

This figure of the man who says "no" - I never meant for him to be the hero. I hope I've written it well enough for the reader to wonder if he's saying no out of idealism, or even a kind of nihilism. The hero, if there is one, is the city of Mumbai.

How long have you lived in Mumbai now?

I came here in late 2006. But I've spent some time away, in Bangalore. I've never had a job in this city, so I'm free all day. If you have a job, you tend to see less and less of the city.

You say it has changed even in the relatively short period you've been there.

The interesting thing is that Mumbai is growing more slowly than many other cities in India. There's a very palpable anxiety that Mumbai has been misgoverned for many, many years. It takes for ever here to build roads and bridges. The city is not the centre of India's technology industry - that's Bangalore. …

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