I fell upon The White Tiger in 2008 when it won the Booker Prize. Of all the books on that shortlist, it stuck out to me the most. I really enjoy reading about Indian culture. I feel like with every book I read I learn something new about their culture. That’s really stimulating.
This novel thrusts us into a story following a character whose name we don’t know at first, but that doesn’t matter because we are immediately interested in finding out who this person is. Eventually something will happen that will alter this character’s view of his situation. We will see him search for freedom. Freedom from all different things and situations. Life isn’t easy and there aren’t thousands of solutions either which this character wrestles with constantly.
The best thing about this story is the manner in which it’s told. I promise midway through you’ll be rooting for the protagonist and you’ll hate everything that’s impeding his possibilities of progress. Written with originality, The White Tiger is a book that will make you reflect on life and your place in it. I recommend it to readers who enjoy books by Indian writers, literary fiction, by Booker Prize winners.
“Balram Halwai is a complicated man. Servant. Philosopher. Entrepreneur. Murderer. Over the course of seven nights, by the scattered light of a preposterous chandelier, Balram tells us the terrible and transfixing story of how he came to be a success in life—having nothing but his own wits to help him along.
Born in the dark heart of India, Balram gets a break when he is hired as a driver for his village’s wealthiest man, two house Pomeranians (Puddles and Cuddles), and the rich man’s (very unlucky) son. From behind the wheel of their Honda City car, Balram’s new world is a revelation. While his peers flip through the pages of Murder Weekly (“Love — Rape — Revenge!”), barter for girls, drink liquor (Thunderbolt), and perpetuate the Great Rooster Coop of Indian society, Balram watches his employers bribe foreign ministers for tax breaks, barter for girls, drink liquor (single-malt whiskey), and play their own role in the Rooster Coop. Balram learns how to siphon gas, deal with corrupt mechanics, and refill and resell Johnnie Walker Black Label bottles (all but one). He also finds a way out of the Coop that no one else inside it can perceive.
Balram’s eyes penetrate India as few outsiders can: the cockroaches and the call centers; the prostitutes and the worshippers; the ancient and Internet cultures; the water buffalo and, trapped in so many kinds of cages that escape is (almost) impossible, the white tiger. And with a charisma as undeniable as it is unexpected, Balram teaches us that religion doesn’t create virtue, and money doesn’t solve every problem — but decency can still be found in a corrupt world, and you can get what you want out of life if you eavesdrop on the right conversations.
The White Tiger recalls The Death of Vishnu and Bangkok 8 in ambition, scope, and narrative genius, with a mischief and personality all its own. Amoral, irreverent, deeply endearing, and utterly contemporary, this novel is an international publishing sensation —and a startling, provocative debut.” (The White Tiger, inside flap)
The White Tiger – Aravind Adiga
Publisher: Free Press
My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
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