Monday, March 23, 2009

48 - The White Tiger; Aravind Adiga

In Aravind Adiga's debut novel The White Tiger: A Novel (Man Booker Prize), Winner of the 2008 Booker Prize, we meet narrator and protagonist Balram Halwai, an intelligent man who was born into poverty. The novel is told in the form of letters from Balram written to the premier of China who is to visit India.
When Balram was a young school boy, he was the only one his age who could read and write. He was identified as the “White Tiger”, the rarest creature in the jungle. He was promised a scholarship because of his abilities but he was unable to continue his education, and instead he was forced to take a job as a cleaner to help out his family.
Balram eventually rises from poverty and he becomes a driver for a wealthy businessman in Delhi. He also acquires his own fleet of cars and we learn how he was able to rise out of poverty. He tells how in order to change ones caste, one must learn how to listen very closely (eavesdrop), and even be willing to do other deplorable things as well.
I have to admit I was somewhat disappointed in this story. I found the main character unlikable, he seemed unable to feel any sort of remorse for the terrible things he did. His wealthy boss and his wife treated people horribly and did not take responsibility for their actions.
One thing that did shine through for me in this story was the great divide between the classes in India, but then I did not need to read this particular book to learn about something I already knew. In summary I feel that this is one of those books where opinions will differ greatly. I am not sorry that I read the book, but it was easy for me to move on and forget about it after turning the final page.
RATING – 3/5 – COMPLETED – 3/23/09


  1. i think you're right- it's definitely not everyone's cup of tea! :-)

  2. I agree with you! It wasn't terrible, but there was nothing special about it. I'm struggling to remember what happened in it now, and I only read it a few months ago.

    For a more powerful look at the Indian class divide I recommend A Fine Balance, for a lighter, funnier book, Q&A is great. I don't know why people love The White Tiger....

  3. I keep picking this one up and putting it back. I think I'll leave it at the store! I agree with farmlanebooks, A Fine Balance is a wonderful but devastating book. One of my all time favorites.

  4. This is one I really want to read for myself. I have seen mixed reviews of this one, like you describe--some people love it, some not so much. It sounds interesting. It'll be interesting to see what I end up thinking of it.


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