The White Tiger: A Novel Paperback – Oct 14 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. A brutal view of India's class struggles is cunningly presented in Adiga's debut about a racist, homicidal chauffer. Balram Halwai is from the Darkness, born where India's downtrodden and unlucky are destined to rot. Balram manages to escape his village and move to Delhi after being hired as a driver for a rich landlord. Telling his story in retrospect, the novel is a piecemeal correspondence from Balram to the premier of China, who is expected to visit India and whom Balram believes could learn a lesson or two about India's entrepreneurial underbelly. Adiga's existential and crude prose animates the battle between India's wealthy and poor as Balram suffers degrading treatment at the hands of his employers (or, more appropriately, masters). His personal fortunes and luck improve dramatically after he kills his boss and decamps for Bangalore. Balram is a clever and resourceful narrator with a witty and sarcastic edge that endears him to readers, even as he rails about corruption, allows himself to be defiled by his bosses, spews coarse invective and eventually profits from moral ambiguity and outright criminality. It's the perfect antidote to lyrical India. (Apr.)
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"Compelling, angry, and darkly humorous, The White Tiger is an unexpected journey into a new India. Aravind Adiga is a talent to watch." -- Mohsin Hamid, author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist
"An exhilarating, side-splitting account of India today, as well as an eloquent howl at her many injustices. Adiga enters the literary scene resplendent in battle dress and ready to conquer. Let us bow to him." -- Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan and The Russian Debutante's Handbook
"The perfect antidote to lyrical India." - Publishers Weekly
"This fast-moving novel, set in India, is being sold as a corrective to the glib, dreamy exoticism Western readers often get...If these are the hands that built India, their grandkids really are going to kick America's ass...BUY IT." - New York Magazine
"Darkly comic...Balram's appealingly sardonic voice and acute observations of the social order are both winning and unsettling." - The New Yorker
"Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger is one of the most powerful books I've read in decades. No hyperbole. This debut novel from an Indian journalist living in Mumbai hit me like a kick to the head -- the same effect Richard Wright's Native Son and Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man had. - USA Today
"Extraordinary and brilliant... At first, this novel seems like a straightforward pulled-up-by-your-bootstraps tale, albeit given a dazzling twist by the narrator's sharp and satirical eye for the realities of life for India's poor... But as the narrative draws the reader further in, and darkens, it becomes clear that Adiga is playing a bigger game... Adiga is a real writer - that is to say, someone who forges an original voice and vision. There is the voice of Halwai - witty, pithy, ultimately psychopathic... Remarkable... I will not spoil the effect of this remarkable novel by giving away ... what form his act of blood-stained entrepreneurship takes. Suffice to say that I was reminded of a book that is totally different in tone and style, Richard Wright's Native Son, a tale of the murderous career of a black kid from the Chicago ghetto that awakened 1940s America to the reality of the racial divide. Whether The White Tiger will do the equivalent for today's India - we shall see." - Adam Lively, The Sunday Times (London)
"Fierce and funny...A satire as sharp as it gets." - Michael Upchurch, The Seattle Times
"There is a new Muse stalking global narrative: brown, angry, hilarious, half-educated, rustic-urban, iconoclastic, paan-spitting, word-smithing--and in the case of Aravind Adiga she hails from a town called Laxmangarh. This is the authentic voice of the Third World, like you've never heard it before. Adiga is a global Gorky, a modern Kipling who grew up, and grew up mad. The future of the novel lies here." - John Burdett, author of Bangkok 8
"Adiga's training as a journalist lends the immediacy of breaking news to his writing, but it is his richly detailed storytelling that will captivate his audience...The White Tiger echoes masterpieces of resistance and oppression (both The Jungle and Native Son come to mind) [and] contains passages of startling beauty...A book that carefully balances fable and pure observation." - Lee Thomas, San Francisco Chronicle
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Top Customer Reviews
Balram's story comes to us via seven letters to the Chinese prime minister who, Balram has decided, should be told the truth about India before a forthcoming state visit. And Balram's form of truth, and his own part in India's transition, makes for interesting reading.
Balram lived in the village of Laxmangarh, deep in rural India. He's the son of a rickshaw puller, and is unable - because of his family's poverty - to finish school. Despite being clever, and being promised a scholarship, Balram is forced to work. One of his jobs involves wiping tables in a Dhanbad teashop. When Balram learns of the high salary paid to car drivers, he learns to drive and gets a lucky break when a rich man from his village (known as `The Stork') hires him as a chauffeur for his son, Ashok, who lives in New Delhi. Living in New Delhi is a revelation for Balram, who quickly becomes aware of immense wealth and opportunity around him, and of the great chasm between the wealthy and the poor. These experiences make Balram worldlier and more ambitious, and he wants to be part of this glamorous new India.
So, how does Balram make his own transition from the Darkness into the Light? By murdering his employer, and assuming a new identity.
`White men will be finished within my lifetime', he tells, us.Read more ›
As I was reading this, it occured to me that if you relocated The Remains of the Day to India and then had the story reinterpreted by John Irving, the result would probably be very similar to The White Tiger. One afternoon, Balram Halwai hears on the radio that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is coming to India to talk to entrepreneurs. Balram sees himself as the ultimate entrepreneur and thinks his is the only story Jiabao really needs to hear. The novel is Balram's letter to Premier Jiabao, written over the course of one week, describing how he came to be such a success: his childhood in the poor village of Laxmangarh, his father's death, the beginning of his career as a chauffer to one of India's wealthy landlords, and his eventual determination to break out of a life of indentured servitude.
There is a lot of humour and wit in Balram's story, but there is also sadness and anger. Balram struggles with doing what is best for his family vs. what he wants for himself. He is greatly affected by his father's death and is determined to create a better life for himself but, as it becomes more attainable, Balram also struggles to maintain his own values in the face of what he sees as the corruption of the rich. In addition to all of these conflicts going on within Balram, we see an India that is struggling to find its own way while edging closer to civil war.
Through Balram's letters, we experience an India that is vivid in its sights, sounds, and smells. There is beauty but there is also chaos, there is the Light and the Darkness. Adiga's writing and imagery are fantastic throughout the book.
I can't say enough great things about The White Tiger. I loved it from start to finish and didn't want to put it down. It seems so simple as you read it but it gets under your skin, it gets in your head, and just takes over. I highly recommend this.
Overall: a funny, sad, and very memorable read. Highly recommended.
Most recent customer reviews
This was a challenging book for me, as it cast in stark juxtaposition the profile of a nominally successful entrepreneur with the laundry list of evil that brought him to success. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Chortick
Book was well written although I was disappointed in the ending. Will read more by this author, Aravind Adiga.Published on Aug. 9 2014 by Linda Mizzivl
Autho Adiga has the Indian caste system by the tail in this enlightening & very well executed delivery. Read morePublished on July 10 2014 by Kindle Customer
I was surprised at how intriguing this book was. It was a requirement for school but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It made me think about things I never thought to think about before. Read morePublished on June 11 2014 by Meagz
One of the best books I have ever read. Exciting, challenging, a real adventure and different. Booker prize winner. Read morePublished on June 7 2014 by Mrs. Colleen M. Paul