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The White Tiger (2008)

by Aravind Adiga

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,221382693 (3.78)693
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)
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» See also 693 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 353 (next | show all)
Excellent, Insightful

Balram is the narrator of Aravind Adiga's "The White Tiger." An innocent and mostly unassuming man, Balram writes a series of letters to the Premier of China. The unsolicited advice is never answered and probably never read, coming from a man who thinks himself an incredible entrepreneur. Why he writes is never revealed, leading the reader to think Balram is either naive or crazy, perhaps both. Throughout the letters, the narrator reveals his life story and how he became a mildly successful businessman in the growing metropolis of Bangalore.

Balram starts out as a tea shop "monkey," saving money to help his family in "the Darkness," Adiga's term for India outside the major cities where the caste system is dominant. "the Darkness," or rather people from "the Darkness" and their ways, is a major theme throughout the book. For example, Balram himself never escapes the niavity that he sees in other people from "the Darkness." As the story progresses, he becomes the servant for a wealthy and corrupt family that has coal interests. One of the members of that family has conflicting interests about exploiting people and bribing politicians, or developing the interests of the country and its people. Eventually, Balram becomes more and more self-sufficient and more and more self-aware to the point that he is corrupted.

The story is written from a fascinating perspective, Balram's. He is an excellent narrator and despite his situation's transformation, his overall character never changes.

The book moves quickly and is extremely well-written. It is certainly worth a read. ( )
  mvblair | Aug 8, 2020 |
I have a soft spot for books, like Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger, that tell you their big plot twist right up front. We know at the end of the first chapter that our narrator Balram, a former servant turned entrepreneur in India, killed his former master. What unfolds over the rest of the book is the story of why. It's the story of India in the modern day, a place of desperate poverty but also extravagant wealth, where ancient temples are just as much a part of life as smartphones. Balram is born into poverty in a rural area, and even though he seems destined to become a laborer, he resists the forces (including his family) that try to keep him in the underclass as long as he can. He finds himself a position as a driver for an upper-class landowner, and eventually moves with one of the landowner's sons to New Delhi to be his driver there.

New Delhi fundamentally changes both that son, Ashok, and Balram. Ashok has been educated in America, and treats his servants more or less like people. As he gets more and more sucked into the mire of his family's business (they're in the coal industry, and Ashok does a lot of running around with briefcases full of money to drop off with various politicians and officials), he becomes harder and harsher. When Balram is nearly forced to take the fall for a bad accident caused by Ashok's wife's drunk driving, Balram realizes that even as far as he's come from his roots, he's still not really safe. As long as he's poor and a servant, he'll always be expendable. But in order to get out of his situation, he needs money, and the money he has the easiest access to? Those briefcases that he's driving Ashok around with.

It's a dark satire, and after reading a lot of Serious Literature, I appreciated its wit and liveliness even more than I otherwise might have. But I would have enjoyed it no matter what. It's an epistolary novel (Balram writes to the prime minister of China, who is visiting India at the time, to explain India's entrepreneurial spirit), which allows it to skip around in time a little for maximum impact...we know that he's committed murder and gone on to start his own business, but how (and why) did he do it? How did he get away with it? What exactly does he do now? The organic tension propels the book forward without being too mysterious. Balram is an indelible character, and I really appreciated the way that Adiga developed Ashok as well, portraying his moral decay even though we only see him through Balram's eyes. It's a quick read that manages to be thought-provoking while still being entertaining. ( )
  GabbyHM | Jun 24, 2020 |
طبعًا التقييم يتحدث عنها ، بس ف أولها كان فيه مشكلة ف الاندماج فيها و ده سبب النجمة اللي نقصت
كمان ، المترجم كان فيه حاجات محتاج يعملها ملاحظات بس للأسف مكانش فيه ! ( )
  Reem.Amgad | Jun 3, 2020 |
my first Kindle novel. very funny in a Slum-doggish way. ( )
  aabtzu | May 18, 2020 |
The story being the catalyst for a pitiless assessment of a corrupt country, it reminds me a bit of Slumdog Millionaire. Nice twist for the story of the rich to keep repeating itself. And very well-written, full of imagery.
But the Booker? Well...
  Kindlegohome | Mar 26, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 353 (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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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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