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The White Tiger

The White Tiger

Book rating: 05 Paperback

By (author) Aravind Adiga

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Paperback $11.66
  • Publisher: ATLANTIC BOOKS
  • Format: Paperback | 336 pages
  • Dimensions: 129mm x 198mm x 23mm | 318g
  • Publication date: 17 January 2009
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1843547228
  • ISBN 13: 9781843547228
  • Sales rank: 6,268

Product description

Meet Balram Halwai, the 'White Tiger': servant, philosopher, entrepreneur and murderer. Balram, the White Tiger, was born in a backwater village on the River Ganges, the son of a rickshaw-puller. He works in a teashop, crushing coal and wiping tables, but nurses a dream of escape. When he learns that a rich village landlord needs a chauffeur, he takes his opportunity, and is soon on his way to Delhi behind the wheel of a Honda. Amid the cockroaches and call-centres, the 36,000,004 gods, the slums, the shopping malls, and the crippling traffic jams, Balram learns of a new morality at the heart of a new India. Driven by desire to better himself, he comes to see how the Tiger might escape his cage...

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Author information

Aravind Adiga was born in Madras in 1974 and was raised in Australia. He studied at Columbia and Oxford Universities. A former correspondent in India for Time magazine, his articles have also appeared in publications like the Financial Times, the Independent, and the Sunday Times. He lives in Mumbai. The White Tiger is his first novel.

Customer reviews

By Richard Brandt 21 Nov 2011 5

In this extraordinary debut Adiga tells an enthralling story about one man's efforts to overthrow his destiny of a life of poverty and hardship laid before him as a result of India's ancient caste system.

Balram Halwai, a poor farm boy, hits the big time when he lands a job as a driver and servant for a rich Indian man who has returned to Delhi from America, apparently no small feat for a man who is meant to be a "sweet maker" as his name suggests. At first the job seems a blessing, a ticket out of a poor, labourer's life in the countryside, but life in the city soon opens Balram's eyes to the chasm of inequity between masters and servants as he is exposed to the obscene riches city folk have access to every day and he is forced to live in squalor in his employer's apartment building basement. In response Balram, who has always considered himself somewhat entrepreneurial fellow who received his greatest education on the streets of India, schemes to oust his employer in a bid to get ahead in an exciting city of vast opportunity which is growing economically at a rate every bit as fast as any of China's business hot-spots.

The White Tiger is cleverly delivered as an extensive letter written by the protagonist to the Chinese Premier who will be visiting India in the near future, the intention being for the protagonist to inform the Premier of the "real India" by telling the story of his rise to success. The narrative effectively delivers an extensive commentary on the developmental and social disparities between China, India and the Western world which forms the basis for the novel's underlying theme. The White Tiger is therefore not limited to social commentary about India, rather it extends itself to India relative to the wider world.

Adiga presents readers with alarming juxtapositions of extreme wealth living alongside extreme poverty, images of economic disparity between regional and city areas and an emerging economic superpower struggling to overcome its age old caste system in order to service the needs of its wealthy developed counterparts.. and gives us a vast cast of characters rife with corruption and rich with cultural identity. reveals a historical context India's caste system of social and religious class and is a brilliant insight into the darker nature of Indian culture delivered in an endearing yet unmitigated voice. The best book I've read in years, it is surely worthy of its Man Booker winning status and catapulted itself to the top of my all time favourites list.

A book this good and a writer of such quality is very rare. Praise for The White Tiger!

Review quote

"'[An] extraordinary and brilliant first novel... Adiga is a real writer - that is to say, someone who forges an original voice and vision.' Sunday Times * "[A] blazingly savage and brilliant first novel... Not a single detail in this novel rings false or feels confected. The White Tiger is an excoriating piece of work, stripping away the veneer of 'India Rising'... That it also manages to be suffused with mordant wit, modulating to clear-eyed pathos, means Adiga is going places as a writer." - Neel Mukherjee, Sunday Telegraph * "Unlike almost any other Indian novel you might have read in recent years, this page-turner offers a completely bald, angry, unadorned portrait of the country as seen from the bottom of the heap; there's not a sniff of saffron or a swirl of sari anywhere. [Adiga's hero] is an enticing figure... Even more impressive is the nitty-gritty of Indian life that Adiga unearths the corruption, the class system, the sheer petty viciousness... You'll read it in a trice and find yourself gripped." - Andrew Holgate, Sunday Times * "Extraordinary and brilliant... Adiga is a real writer - that is to say, someone who forges an original voice and vision... The voice of Halwai - witty, pithy, ultimately psychopathic... [is] remarkable." - Adam Lively, Sunday Times"