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The White Tiger (2008)

by Aravind Adiga

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9,383415781 (3.79)754
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 754 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 387 (next | show all)
A good enough though familiar premise, class conflict as played out in the story of a once poor servant who eventually becomes a wealthy employer, but weighed down by boring writing.

My partner really enjoyed it and recommended it highly, but I'm having a hard time getting into it. ( )
  lschiff | Sep 24, 2023 |
This winner of the 2008 Man Booker Prize was a real surprise for me. I understand that this book was Aravind Adiga's first book, and it is a masterpiece in the satire genre. It's fresh, hilarious and very different, with one of the most likeable narrators you'll ever meet--Balram Halwai introduces himself in his letters to the Prime Minister of China, Wen Jiabao, as an entrepreneur and then proceeds to tell him of his rise from a poor boy in a very poor village in northern India, and how he made his rise to be a gentleman of substance in Bangalore. We never hear about Mr. Jiabao's reaction to these letters, or if he even received them, but we do learn all about Balram's remarkable life. Balram spares no punches as he describes the grubby and corrupt underground of his country, and the depravities that people of power partake in. He also doesn't shy away from explaining how he, a poor Indian boy from a small village, made it to the big time in Bangalore, and how he stopped at nothing to get there. The main force that drove him was that he did not want to be a servant all his life. The narrative is outlandish, irreverent and unsparing in his descriptions of the injustices that he observes and endures. But it also heartwarming and endearing as we see all sides of Balram. It certainly describes a lot about India and its politics and religions. And illustrates how a quest for power can change a human being. The language and the satire are exquisite in this book. A brilliant tour-de-force. ( )
  Romonko | Sep 24, 2023 |
Balram Halwai is a complicated man in contemporary India. 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.

Balram tells his story of how he overcame being poor to being rich without any help or support from family, friends, employers, police or government. Balram slowly becomes corrupt because everyone else is corrupt too and that’s their system. Balram is likeable and relatable despite his actions. He’s humorous in a cynical and irreverent way. Although the corruption and intimidation from most people, whether rich or poor, was sad, the story was interesting. ( )
  gaylebutz | Sep 7, 2023 |
Delightful cynical. Razor sharp narrative about modern day India. ( )
  Acia | Aug 21, 2023 |
This book was an absolute joy to read. The White Tiger (AKA Balram, AKA Munna) is a brilliant narrator and a wonderful character. His character develops very satisfyingly throughout the book, which can be difficult for a narrator, who often has a fixed point of view. The prose is not beautiful or lyrical, but it perfectly serves the story and is very witty. I laughed out loud on a number of occasions.

The politics are very interesting, or maybe I should say the political philosophy is very interesting, since I have no idea how accurately it reflects the political reality in India. I could discuss what it all means here, but I think that would constitute a bigger spoiler than describing who does what to whom and how, since the novel is so carefully structured that each political point is produced just at the moment the reader is ready to consider it.

This is an wonderful romp through contemporary India with a very powerful message. ( )
  robfwalter | Jul 31, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 387 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Aravind Adigaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Herzke, IngoÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rey, Santiago delTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Ramin Bahrani
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Mr. Premier, Sir. Neither you nor I speak English, but there are some things that can be said only in English.
“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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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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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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