"A foul taste of book . . ."

<p><img width="120" height="115" alt="" src="/documents/UserContributed/image/WhiteTiger2.jpg" /></p>
<p>Preparing for the fact I may have to write a summary/review of Aravind Adiga's <i>The White Tiger</i> (Atlantic) should it pick up the most coveted literary award of the year, I folded over the corner of a page which carried the following line: &quot;There was a foul taste of book in my mouth&quot;. Referring to central character Balram Halwai's experience of a Delhi second-hand book market, it is an apt summary of my experience with the latest winner of the Man Booker Prize&mdash;but perhaps not for the conclusions one might jump to.<br />
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I feel privileged to be one of the 5,188 people who've bought a copy of the book&mdash;one of the 66 people in the country who bought a copy during the week ending 6th September, according to Nielsen BookScan data. Hardly a bestseller: Adiga's d&eacute;but is not even the publisher's bestselling novel of the year&mdash;that accolade goes to Pascal Mercier's excellent <i>Night Train to Lisbon</i>, one of 4,940 books to have outsold Adiga's novel in the UK this year. The &quot;literary fiction is dead&quot; debate continues to rage and I won't go into it here&mdash;for an outstanding article on the subject I'll direct you towards Janet Street-Porter's recent blog for the <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/janet-street-porter/ja... />
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It reads at times like a cross between Mark Haddon's <i>The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time</i> and John Fowles' <i>The Collector </i>(both Vintage), but re-written by D B C Pierre.&nbsp; &quot;Did I enjoy it?&quot; I've been repeatedly asked. &quot;Enjoy&quot; isn't a word that fits comfortably in describing my time with poverty-stricken youngster-turned-entrepreneur Balram Halwai. At times both a darkly humorous but thoroughly detestable character, Balram's muddled morality leaves him with a deeply disturbing relationship with those that hold power (money), a group that he ultimately desires to become part of.</p>
<p>Michael Portillo, chair of the 2008 judges, singled out the book for &quot;dealing with pressing social issues and significant global developments with astonishing humour&quot;, something I whole-heartedly concur with.<br />
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The last five Booker winners went on to sell more than 30,000 through Nielsen BookScan's Total Consumer Market between their win and the end of the year. Adiga can expect much the same. As for my own opinions on the book that had the London Book Fair buzzing last year, it's a somewhat shocking, well written and sharply observed commentary on globalisation. It's a good book that leaves a foul taste. Whether it's the best book from the Commonwealth/ROI this year, I wouldn't necessarily agree. But then, it wouldn't be a literary prize if the majority agreed&mdash; in that scenario, Katie Price would win hands down. Every year.</p>