The White Tiger

The White Tiger

Book rating: 03 Hardback

By (author) Aravind Adiga

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Paperback $12.49
  • Publisher: ATLANTIC BOOKS
  • Format: Hardback | 336 pages
  • Dimensions: 154mm x 212mm x 36mm | 558g
  • Publication date: 1 March 2008
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1843547201
  • ISBN 13: 9781843547204
  • Sales rank: 24,186

Product description

Balram Halwai is the White Tiger - the smartest boy in his village. His family is too poor for him to afford for him to finish school and he has to work in a teashop, breaking coals and wiping tables. But Balram gets his break when a rich man hires him as a chauffeur, and takes him to live in Delhi. The city is a revelation. As he drives his master to shopping malls and call centres, Balram becomes increasingly aware of immense wealth and opportunity all around him, while knowing that he will never be able to gain access to that world. As Balram broods over his situation, he realizes that there is only one way he can become part of this glamorous new India - by murdering his master."The White Tiger" presents a raw and unromanticised India, both thrilling and shocking - from the desperate, almost lawless villages along the Ganges, to the booming Wild South of Bangalore and its technology and outsourcing centres. The first-person confession of a murderer, "The White Tiger" is as compelling for its subject matter as for the voice of its narrator - amoral, cynical, unrepentant, yet deeply endearing.

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Author information

Aravind Adiga was born in Madras in 1974. He has lived in India, Australia, America and the UK. He has worked for the Financial Times in New York and for Time in India. His short story collection, Between the Assassinations, was published by Picador India in 2007. The White Tiger is his first novel.

Customer reviews

By Hans van Dijk 10 Mar 2011 4

It's not as impressive as Shantaram, but The White Tiger makes up for some good evenings of reading. The story is well put together and really pulls you in. Just a good read...

By Mark Thwaite 10 Dec 2008 3

** Winner of the 2008 Man Booker Prize for Fiction **
Aravind Adiga's Booker-winning novel, a dark social comedy, which angrily and remorselessly punctures the fantasies of the rich and their blindness to the poverty that surrounds them, tells the story of Balram Halwai, the eponymous White Tiger, and the most clever boy in his village. Being the smartest boy around, Balram -- obviously -- wants to get his full share of the pie. He wants to get rich and will do anything to get rich. But his poverty and his lack of opportunity are in inverse proportion to his huge ambition. It is only when Balram luckily becomes the chauffeur of a rich master that his eyes are fully opened to just how much huge wealth saturates a certain strata of Indian society, but which he is to be forever excluded from. Excluded from unless, Balram decides, he kills his moneyed master.
This is the new, optimistic, rich India, with its dotcom millionaires and its swish shopping centres, its Western values and its call centres, seen from the bottom up, seen from the perspective of those left out of the middle class dream, of those for whom the capitalist dream is a daily nightmare of rejection and dreadful hardship.
Shocking, compelling and eye-opening, The White Tiger is blackly humourous debut of considerable sophistication. A worthy Booker winner.

Review quote

"'In the grand illusions of a 'rising' India, Aravind Adiga has found a subject Gogol might have envied. With remorselessly and delightfully mordant wit The White Tiger anatomizes the fantastic cravings of the rich; it evokes, too, with starting accuracy and tenderness, the no less desperate struggles of the deprived.' Pankaj Mishra"

Editorial reviews

What makes an entrepreneur in today's India? Bribes and murder, says this fiercely satirical first novel. Balram Halwai is a thriving young entrepreneur in Bangalore, India's high-tech capital. China's Premier is set to visit, and the novel's frame is a series of Balram's letters to the Premier, in which he tells his life story. Balram sees India as two countries: the Light and the Darkness. Like the huddled masses, he was born in the Darkness, in a village where his father, a rickshaw puller, died of tuberculosis. But Balram is smart, as a school inspector notices, and he is given the moniker White Tiger. Soon after, he's pulled out of school to work in a tea shop, then manages to get hired as a driver by the Stork, one of the village's powerful landlords. Balram is on his way, to Delhi in fact, where the Stork's son, Mr. Ashok, lives with his Westernized wife, Pinky Madam. Ashok is a gentleman, a decent employer, though Balram will eventually cut his throat (an early revelation). His business (coal trading) involves bribing government officials with huge sums of money, the sight of which proves irresistible to Balram and seals Ashok's fate. Adiga, who was born in India in 1974, writes forcefully about a corrupt culture; unfortunately, his commentary on all things Indian comes at the expense of narrative suspense and character development. Thus he writes persuasively about the so-called Rooster Coop, which traps family-oriented Indians into submissiveness, but fails to describe the stages by which Balram evolves from solicitous servant into cold-blooded killer. Adiga's pacing is off too, as Balram too quickly reinvents himself in Bangalore, where every cop can be bought. An undisciplined debut, but one with plenty of vitality. (Kirkus Reviews)