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The White Tiger

A Novel

Adiga, Aravind

(Book - 2008)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The White Tiger
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Introducing a major literary talent,The White Tigeroffers a story of coruscating wit, blistering suspense, and questionable morality, told by the most volatile, captivating, and utterly inimitable narrator that this millennium has yet seen.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, Balram 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 ofMurder 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 TigerrecallsThe Death of VishnuandBangkok 8in 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.
Publisher: New York : Free Press, 2008.
Edition: 1st Free Press hardcover ed.
ISBN: 9781416562597
1416562591
Characteristics: 276 p. ;,23 cm.

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Does he exaggerate to make his story colourful?
I feel that he does this. But a very readable story.

Adiga writes well, but this is poverty porn aimed squarely at Western audiences to make them feel good about their lives in contrast to the people depicted in these books. Slumdog Millionaire is another popular example of this genre. Adiga, like many other Indian writers popular in the West, is a committed Marxist (or deeply sympathetic to the cause); a failed ideology that has been rejected almost everywhere else in the world. They would like nothing better than to freeze all possibilities of development and, with it, any chance for the people that they profess to champion to escape deep poverty. The result of their socialist grip on economic policy in India for over half a century is obvious to see. In striking contrast, their comrades in China broke free from their stifling leftist dogmas and moved millions of their citizens away from oppressive poverty. In the meantime, these authors rake in the money and spend much time in the West making the fashionable circuits and living the good life that they would deny to millions of Indians. For a more balanced look at a gritty modern urban India struggling to break free from soul-sapping socialism imposed by noblesse oblige elites, try Aatish Taseer's The Temple Goers.

a very good book, sparkling writing, but not something that I'd ever love or read again. It's insane in all the ways that normal daily life in any corrupt world is. And while the main character normally doesn't qualify as being sympathetic, he is certainly honest and trying to live as honestly as his world will allow. Glad I read it

Mar 26, 2014
  • Jane60201 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I liked the raw quality of this book because it seemed to express what it is like for all persons who are forced to be servants or slaves without a hope of a way out. While the protagonist's way out was pretty extreme, his need to not be exploited was very important. This made me think of books about slavery in the U.S. as well the conditions of the poor in all the developing nations.

I agree with the comment from Harriet_the_spy, but had to take a break before reading the 2nd book,
went back to a few other India books to add another dimension to the experience.
Adiga is pretty raw.

Loved the book! The narrative was very unique and kept you guessing as to what was going to happen next. Although the subject matters, covering topics such as poverty, corruption, cheating, are very sad - there was still humor to be found between the lines. Even though the main character wasn't a good guy, you still couldn't help by cheer for him and for a happy ending.

Aug 25, 2012
  • peterbryan rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

I hard a hard time with White Tiger and stopped at page 80. Our main character is just too toxic, devoid of any redeeming characteristics. His India-bashing was over the top and this would all of have been more than tolerable had the prose been just slightly bewitching or captivating but I'm sorry to say it wasn't. It was, to coin a phrase about as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit.

Aug 24, 2012
  • markat rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

capitalism/communism/socialism -- it's all the same in 21st c. India. It's 1984-- only with more squalor and pathos.

Jul 16, 2012
  • Winnipeg1 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Sometimes I don't GET what it is that judges see when they award the Man Booker - this book is a most notable exception. This writer gives a loving-but-unromanticized look at modern India, something all our countries could use more of. On my list of all-time best books.

May 28, 2012
  • mexicanadiense rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

One of the best books I've read in the past decade. Adiga is an exciting young voice in fiction today, I highly recommend both his novel as well as the more recent "Last Man in Tower".

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Jun 01, 2011
  • vchuynh rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

vchuynh thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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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. 304p.

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