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The White Tiger: A Novel by Aravind Adiga

The White Tiger: A Novel (original 2008; edition 2008)

by Aravind Adiga (Author)

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7,695358660 (3.78)660
Title:The White Tiger: A Novel
Authors:Aravind Adiga (Author)
Info:Free Press (2008), 304 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Tags:RBDO, 2018, India, Murder

Work details

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (2008)

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» See also 660 mentions

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re reading 2018
  Annabel1954 | Jun 17, 2018 |
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. ( )
  500books | May 22, 2018 |
I liked this book a lot.

This story is told by the main character in a series of letters (emails??) written over the course of 7 nights to the Premiere of China who is coming to India for a visit.

I liked the story, characters, and humor of this book very much. It's about a very poor guy who is a servant in India and what he does to become successful.

It won the Man Booker Prize in 2008. ( )
  Jinjer.Hundley | Mar 24, 2018 |
[The White Tiger] by Aravind Adiga
I should have known that I would be disappointed by a book that was the winner of the Man Booker prize in 2008 and was described as “A Masterpiece” by the Times and as “Blazingly Savage and Brilliant” by the Sunday Telegraph.

The book is one dimensional in the extreme. It is a lampoon of corruption in Modern India, which appears to have been written by somebody who got most of his information from reading the more outlandish reports published in the English language newspaper The India Times. It is written in the first person by one Balram Halwai who tells his story of rising from an obscure village in the province of Bangalore to becoming one of its leading entrepreneurs. He describes his life as a poor youth in the village desperate to make his way in the world; he sees an opportunity to become a driver in the service of one of the local big business man and tells how he uses the corruption in the system to obtain his first goal and from then how he manages to become an entrepreneur himself.

There is plenty of local colour and wild stories of the bribery and corruption that Aravind Adiga claims is all encompassing throughout Indian society and business practices. This may be true but Adiga’s heavy handed story telling was wearing extremely thin by the time I was 50 pages into this 300 page novel. The author had by this time also given away much of the plot and so it was a case of reading the same thing over and over again until the end: it was like reading a particularly moribund version of a script for the film Slumdog Millionaire, without a love story.

No plot to speak of, no characterisation but plenty of stock characters, no intimation that the book could go anywhere but down a dreary lampoon route. I am at a loss as to how the Man Booker judges considered this book to be anything approaching literature. Perhaps they were taken in by the more outlandish descriptions of modern Indian society, or perhaps by the authors complete lack of humour or humanity. or perhaps the author/publisher did what most of his characters did in the novel - came up with a huge bribe that the judging panel could not refuse.
A waste of time and two stars. ( )
1 vote baswood | Oct 31, 2017 |
This is my only unfinished novel till date; and I don't intend to complete it. I found the tone too gloomy and sadistic to make the novel a satisfying read. And I am saying this after I have read apocalyptic-themed novels which usually have a depressing theme.
I hope that I don't feel a life long repulsion from the author. ( )
  jayesh.bhoot | Aug 15, 2017 |
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» 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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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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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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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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