Book Review: The White Tiger

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga is Man Booker Prize 2008 winner. This book is published in 2008 and is the first novel written by this 33 year old author from Chennai, India.

Protagonist of the novel Balram Halwai alias The White Tiger tells his story to the Premier of China over a series of letters written to him ahead of his visit to India.

whit-tigerBorn in a village in the dark heart of India, Balram Halwai is a son of a rickshaw puller. He will be forced to move out of school by his family and to work in a teashop. While cleaning the tables and crushing the coal he nurses a dream to escape out of the dark. He learns to drive a car and his chance to escape from the village comes when a landlord hires him as a chauffeur.

In the capital of India, Delhi, he struggles to be a loyal servant and at the same time his desire to better himself and find a way out of darkness. His boss is Mr. Ashok, who returns from America to venture in new India. Assisting his boss, Balram starts re-educating himself in the heart of Delhi. He learns a new morality at the heart of new India and begins to see how the Tiger might escape his cage. Finally he kills his master and escapes to Bangalore with the money to become a successful entrepreneur.

Balram is not only a driver but a cook, a cleaner and a servant and whatever his owner wants him to be. This is the case in India. A driver is a servant doing any stuff his boss orders. While saving his boss Ashok’s wife from an accident case where she kills a girl at midnight, Balram will be forced to take the crime on himself and go imprisoned. But fortunately for him, a corrupt policeman friend of his boss saves him without registering the accident case.

From the cover page of the book:

The White Tiger is a tale of two Indias. Balram’s journey from the darkness of village life to the light of entrepreneurial success is utterly amoral, brilliantly irreverent, deeply endearing and altogether unforgettable.

Read about the real India on these 321 pages of the book. How the politics work, how taxes are not paid by bribing the officials and many things that happen in the dark. Though it sometimes sounds a negative or cynical portrayal of India, for someone who is a servant for himself will agree with every sentence written in this novel. India as seen from a poor man dreaming to break the cage and join the rich.

I don’t need to rate this book as it is already a prestigious award winner. Read this book to know how Balram actually escaped the cage and became Ashok Sharma the respected entrepreneur in Bangalore.

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