Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
288 pages
Published April 2008 by Simon and Schuster

Balram Halwai, the white tiger, of the title, is writing a confession of sorts in a series of seven letters to the Chinese premier. The premier is heading to Bangalore India on a fact finding mission and Balram takes it upon himself to tell the premier all about Bangalore and his own success.

Balram was born in poverty, the son of a rickshaw driver. Because the government is not paying the school teachers, the teacher absconds with all of the funds intended for the students and does very little teacher. So Balram spends only a few years in school before he heads off to earn a living. Eventually he works his way up to being a driver for a family of businessmen. In his letters to the premier, Balram writes about life growing up, life as a driver, the politics of India and the class structure. And a crime he has committed that has allowed him to become the entrepreneur he is at the time of the letters.

The picture Adiga paints of India is vivid--the reader can easily imagine the stench of the air pollution in the cities, the filth of the slums, the sounds of the traffic. Nothing is safe from Adiga's barbs--democracy is corrupt, business is hand-in-hand with politicians, employers and servants alike treat servants with contempt. At times this book is almost comical, at other times it is nothing short of a tragedy. Ethics are entirely missing in every character. You will not like Balram but I felt that he had done the best that he could under the circumstances of his life.

I listened to this on CD and the gentleman who narrated it is Indian which really enhanced the experience for me. This book is not for everyone. It is not light, it is not fun. But I enjoyed it a lot.

18 comments:

  1. Thanks for this review. White Tiger has been on my to-read list for awhile.

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  2. I have this one...
    This is just one view of India, and there is an entirely different India too :)

    But for the guy Balram is and his circumstances, I guess this is his India :)

    I have to read this one too :)

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  3. Hmmm I've seen this book, but thought that it seemed kind of weird. Maybe I'll give it a peek though...

    Treland tried to show me last night how to iron. I just sat there and was like "Wrinkle release spray is so much easier." and he just gave me a look :o) I suppose I could iron if I really had to...but since we don't have a designated area for the ironing stuff, I doubt I'll do it more than about twice a year!

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  4. Great review! I have this on my TBR list and am looking forward to reading it now more than ever. Cheers!!

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  5. Great review Lisa. This one was a 3/5 for me...just so so.

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  6. I hope you like it!
    I watched the episode last night and I must say I really liked it. I think Romola Garai did good job as Emma and Jonny Lee Miller is a handsome Knightley. I just felt weird because during the whole episode I had the hots for Mr Elton :D And when reading the book I cannot stand Mr Elton.

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  7. I started the audio on this one, but put it aside as I just wasn't in the mood for it. I need to give it another try...but I was enjoying the narrator.

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  8. What a great review, this one actually caught my eye a few months ago. I love books set in India so I'm thinking that I will enjoy this one.

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  9. I tried to get interested in this because of it winning the Man Booker Prize, but so far have not been successful! I like to hear about India though - maybe I should try the CD!

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  10. I like the idea of listening to this book on CD especially because the narrator is India. This book sounds very sad and troubling but interesting too. I'm not sure I'll like this book but I'd definitely like to give it a try.

    Thank you for a great review.

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  11. I've seen this one all over the place but I obviously was way off on what it was about. I thought it was about slavery. LOL.

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  12. A good narrator can really enhance a book. Nice to know this was a good audio book.

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  13. Great review. I want to get to this book at some point, I've heard great things about it. You just confirmed it

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  14. I love books set in other cultures, so I think I would like this one too. I'm glad to know the audio version is good.

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  15. Great review. I've been meaning to read this one for awhile now.

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  16. Excellent review. I bought this book a while ago so now I can't wait to read this one!

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  17. I seem to get swept up into books set in other countries so easily. This is one that I've had my eye on for awhile. Thank you for your great review, Lisa. It definitely sounds like a worthwhile book to read.

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  18. I really liked this one too. One of my fave reads last year.

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