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The White Tiger (2008)

by Aravind Adiga

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9,067404729 (3.78)738
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 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.… (more)
  1. 112
    Q & A by Vikas Swarup (bogreader, 2810michael)
  2. 61
    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: I happened to be reading this YA title simultaneously, and was surprised/pleased to find that the two books went together quite well. Similarly charismatic narrator and several of the same themes.
  3. 50
    A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (Nickelini)
    Nickelini: Both novels look at the dire side of life in India, and both are very well written.
  4. 51
    The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (wonderlake)
    wonderlake: First-person narratives of growing disenchantment
  5. 73
    Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (jtho)
    jtho: Another great story set in India that shows us both the seedy sides and the beauty.
  6. 30
    The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe (Cecilturtle)
  7. 64
    Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (infiniteletters)
  8. 20
    Reef by Romesh Gunesekera (SqueakyChu, chrisharpe)
    SqueakyChu: Another book, this one much quieter, about a man's desire to move up in society.
  9. 31
    Native Son by Richard Wright (Miss-Owl)
  10. 10
    The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson (wonderlake)
    wonderlake: Balanced, measured accounts by murderers!
  11. 10
    Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga (bookmomo)
    bookmomo: Modern India in a nutshell. Adiga is an accomplished writer.
  12. 21
    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz (chrisharpe)
  13. 10
    A Good Man in Africa by William Boyd (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Books with Amusing Rogue protagonists
  14. 00
    The African Safari Papers by Robert Sedlack (mcenroeucsb)
  15. 00
    The Street by Ann Petry (teunduynstee)
    teunduynstee: Both novels show how well intentioned, hard working people do not stand a chance against the system of poverty, discrimination, prejudice, etc...
  16. 00
    The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These evocative novels discuss the social inequities and corruption endemic to modern India. Their complex characters and strong sense of place provide thought-provoking ways to understand the current state of the subcontinent, even as they tell about individual lives.… (more)
  17. 00
    The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar (mcenroeucsb)
  18. 11
    A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif (Anonymous user)
  19. 11
    Chef by Jaspreet Singh (Clara53)
  20. 11
    A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Books with Delusional/Enlightened Outcast protagonists

(see all 26 recommendations)

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» See also 738 mentions

English (374)  Dutch (7)  French (5)  Spanish (3)  German (3)  Italian (2)  Catalan (2)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Portuguese (1)  Hebrew (1)  Lithuanian (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (402)
Showing 1-5 of 374 (next | show all)
For Assignmernt ( )
  Sherry_Ahmed | Sep 12, 2022 |
person who's only seen the movie Parasite: "Wow, getting a lot of parasite vibes from this" ( )
  bluestraveler | Aug 15, 2022 |
Mmm. Not entirely sure what to make of this.
It's narrated in the first person and takes the form of a letter, or series of letters, from an Indian businessman in Bangalore and he is writing to the Premier of China, who is due to be visiting India shortly. It's narrated by someone who comes from a lower caste and spends most of his life as a servant. Through the series of letters we hear how Balram comes to be a driver, then how he moves from servant to master. Along the way there is a lot of trouble.
It is quite explicit and scathing about the way Indian society work, the bribes and corruption that exists at every level. It is also rather bleak, in that there is no prospect of that changing. Balram manages to change his fate, but only by an act of violence that is not likely to be repeated. He uses an analogy of a chicken coop and the chances of the chickens destroying the coop is judged to be low. I found this somewhat depressing. ( )
1 vote Helenliz | Jul 17, 2022 |
Most better Indian novels I've read are either nostalgic for a city, or they hate it from the eyes and the passions of the upper middle class and the rich - mostly it's an unhealthy mix of the two. This book is different. This book makes me believe that the story it's telling is an honest reflection of reality, it takes facts and fictions that I know, and presents them wrapped in the thoughts of someone whose kind I will probably never know in person.
Munna, and I shall call him that, is not a dishonest narrator, Munna is an escapist. Munna is the exact amount of racist, misogynist, and clueless for your average Indian male. I guess that's what startled me. The frankness that's been put into this book. Reading parts of it, I almost put it down in shame, because I'm surrounded by Munnas, I might even know some, and I haven't a clue what way there is to remedy that. Education? American education didn't do jackshit for his boss, so no, the current education cannot be it. This book starts off funny and sad, turns bitter and angry, and ends in a limbo - same as the narrator. Munna got out of India's chicken coop, only to step in the global chicken coop. He is happy there, blissfully unaware. There's more space to roam about for the chicken, you see. He is still sticking his thumb at other drivers, only, he is driving an American in his tech-limousine now. How long before that realisation dawns? Or would he forever look back to the Indian Chicken Coop and feel happy that he got out, never looking farther to see his bigger cage? ( )
  Toshi_P | May 6, 2022 |
This continued both my run of reading books that have won a major award (the Booker this time), and my goal of reading more books by authors from ethnic minorities. It’s a book that seems simple, a rags to riches tale set in modern India, but manages to pack in a powerful message and loads of memorable incident. The narrator, for all his flaws, is engaging and likeable and his story is really compelling. Highly recommended ( )
  whatmeworry | Apr 9, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 374 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Aravind Adigaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rey, Santiago delTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
For Ramin Bahrani
First words
Mr. Premier, Sir. Neither you nor I speak English, but there are some things that can be said only in English.
Quotations
“The jails of Delhi are full of drivers who are there behind bars because they are taking the blame for their good, solid middle-class masters. We have left the villages but the masters still own us, bodies, souls, and arse. Yes, that’s right: we all live in one of the world’s greatest democracies. What a fucking joke.”
A rich man's body is like a premium cotton pillow, white and soft and blank. Ours are different. My father's spine was a knotted rope, the kind that women use in villages to pull water from wells; the clavicle curved around his neck in high relief, like a dog's collar; cuts and nicks and scars, like little whip marks in his flesh, ran down his chest and waist, reaching down below his hip bones into his buttocks. The story of a poor man's life is written on his body, in sharp pen.
The book of your revolution sits in the pit of your belly, young Indian. Crap it out, and read
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (3)

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 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.

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Book 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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