Global Goondas? Money, Crime and Social Anxieties in Aravind Adiga’s Writings

  • Robbie B. H. Goh


The figure of the criminal has come to the forefront in recent Indian writing in English (IWE), especially in the last decade and a half. We can point to novels like Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger (2008) and Last Man in Tower (2011) and, to a certain extent, Adiga’s Between the Assassinations (2009), Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games (2007), Vikas Swarup’s Q & A (2005) and Six Suspects (2008), Tarun J. Tejpal’s The Story of My Assassins (2009), Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis (2012), and many others, as evidence of this. Crime fiction is hardly unique to India, of course, and has precedents in the industrializing and modernizing milieus of Western Europe in the late eighteenth to nineteenth centuries, and in similar socioeconomic contexts in various countries in Asia and the Global South from the latter part of the twentieth century to the present; it continues as a strand of popular writing around the world. The present chapter will briefly position IWE crime writing — focusing particularly on Aravind Adiga — vis-à-vis other crime and detective fiction, in order to understand the particular thematic contours of the former, and in so doing seek to come to terms with the social anxieties that it reflects. It may well be that the heavily ironic and cynical criminal in IWE is over-determined by India’s anxieties about the country’s stalled modernization, and the stubborn persistence of a quasi-feudal culture that seems to prohibit India’s entry into the flows of global capital.


Social Anxiety Indian Society Capitalist Society Detective Figure Global Literary 
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© Robbie B. H. Goh 2014

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  • Robbie B. H. Goh

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