The White Tiger Author:Aravind Adiga 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, Ba... more »lram 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. Sold in sixteen countries around the world, 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.« less
I was a bit apprehensive reading a series of letters from a barely literate Indian chauffeur. There seemed to be little about the driver I could find engaging: murderer, entrepreneur, Halwai (sweetmaker) caste, Hindi, angry servant. I was amazed at the charisma of the story-teller and the metaphors he uses for life: chicken coop, zoo, white tiger, big belly. Vivid dark imagery and social inequity make this a great novel. Winner of the Man Booker Prize (English) 2008.
This novel most definitely lived up to all of it's many accolades, especially if you are a lover of Indian literature. The narrator tells his life story in a series of emails to a Chinese official who is coming to India to learn about entrepreneurship. You learn a great deal about the underbelly of Indian society and it's huge division of wealth and privelege. Told with a great deal of humor. I had a hard time putting this down!
We read this book for our women's book club and had the longest, liveliest discussion I've ever had while in the club. We probably discussed the book for over an hour. This is an excellent book. At times, I found it hard to read because of the graphic descriptions of the poverty and unfairness of the poor people's lives. But if you want to really have something to think about, this is the book for you. At times, you find yourself rooting for the main character, who has murdered his employer in cold blood. Wben you're done with the book, however, you may find yourself wondering how you could have been on his side. The layers to this book are endless and it definitely deserved the award it won: The Man Booker award of 2008.