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The White Tiger Hardcover – 1 Mar 2008


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; First Edition, First Printing edition (1 Mar 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843547201
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843547204
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 21.9 x 3.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (345 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 187,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Aravind Adiga was born in Madras in 1974. He studied at Columbia and Oxford Universities. His first novel, The White Tiger, won the Man Booker Prize for 2008. A former Indian correspondent for Time magazine, his writing has also appeared in the New Yorker, the Financial Times, and the Sunday Times among other publications. He lives in Mumbai.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Winning the Man Booker prize is something that most authors dream of, although -- ironically -- the reputation of the prize itself was under siege a few years ago. Books that won the award were acquiring a reputation of being difficult and inaccessible, but those days appear to be over -- and unarguable proof may be found in the 2008 winner, The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. Apart from its considerable literary merit, the novel is the most compelling of pageturners (in the old-fashioned sense of that phrase) and offers a picture of modern India that is as evocative as it is unflattering. The protagonist, too, is drawn in the most masterly of fashion.

Balram Halwai, the eponymous ‘white tiger’, is a diminutive, overweight ex-teashop worker who now earns his living as a chauffeur. But this is only one side of his protean personality; he deals in confidence scams, over-ambitious business promotions (built on the shakiest of foundations) and enjoys approaching life with a philosophical turn of mind. But is Balram also a murderer? We learn the answer as we devour these 500 odd pages. Born into an impoverished family, Balram is removed from school by his parents in order to earn money in a thankless job: shop employee. He is forced into banal, mind-numbing work. But Balram dreams of escaping -- and a chance arises when a well-heeled village landlord takes him on as a chauffeur for his son (although the duties involve transporting the latter's wife and two Pomeranian dogs). From the rich new perspective offered to him in this more interesting job, Balram discovers New Delhi, and a vision of the city changes his life forever. His learning curve is very steep, and he quickly comes to believe that the way to the top is by the most expedient means. And if that involves committing the odd crime of violence, he persuades himself that this is what successful people must do.

The story of the amoral protagonist at the centre of this fascinating narrative is, of course, what keeps the reader comprehensively gripped, but perhaps the real achievement of the book is in its picture of two Indias: the bleak, soul-destroying poverty of village life and the glittering prizes to be found in the big city. The book cleverly avoids fulfilling any of the expectations a potential reader might have -- except that of instructing and entertaining. The White Tiger will have many readers anxious to see what Adiga will do next. --Barry Forshaw

Review

`An exhilarating, side-splitting account of India today, as well as an eloquent howl at her many injustices. Adiga enters the literary scene resplendent in battle dress and ready to conquer. Let us bow to him.' Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan and The Russian Debutante's Handbook -- Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan and The Russian Debutante's Handbook

`Blazingly savage and brilliant... Not a single detail in this novel rings false or feels confected. The White Tiger is an excoriating piece of work... That it also manages to be suffused with mordant wit, modulating to clear-eyed pathos, means Adiga is going places as a writer.' -- Neel Mukherjee, Sunday Telegraph

'There is a new Muse stalking global narrative: brown, angry, hilarious, half-educated, rustic-urban, iconoclastic, paan-spitting, word-smithing... Adiga is a global Gorky, a modern Kipling who grew up, and grew up mad. The future of the novel lies here.' -- John Burdett, author of Bangkok 8

`Adiga's sharp, funny and angry book is a marvellous antidote to patronizing clichés about the exoticism of the Orient. Instead, his 21st century India is a disgusting place that stinks, swarms with people on the make and whose only redeeming feature seems to be the survival instinct that the amoral, irreverent Halwai has in buckets.' -- Tina Jackson, Metro (4 stars)

`Aravind Adiga's riveting, razor-sharp debut novel explores with wit and insight the realities of these two Indias, and reveals what happens when the inhabitants of one collude and then collide with those of the other... Halwai's voice - wised-up, mordant, sardonic, self-mocking and utterly without illusions - is as compelling as it is persuasive, and one of the triumphs of the book... His is a novel that has come not a moment too soon.' -- Soumya Bhattacharya, Independent

`Compelling, angry, and darkly humorous, The White Tiger is an unexpected journey into a new India. Aravind Adiga is a talent to watch.' -- Mohsin Hamid, Booker-shortlisted author of The Reluctant

`Dazzling... [The White Tiger]is an Indian novel that explodes the clichés... It's a thrilling ride through a global power... Brimming with idiosyncrasy, sarcastic, cunning, and often hilarious... Arch defenders of India's claim to be truly democratic, even-handedly prosperous and corruption-free (and these must be few outside of the Indian cabinet) might balk at The White Tiger. Everyone else, surely, will be seduced by it.' -- David Mattin, Independent

`Extraordinary and brilliant... Adiga is a real writer - that is to say, someone who forges an original voice and vision. There is the voice of Halwai - witty, pithy, ultimately psychopathic... Remarkable.' -- Adam Lively, Sunday Times

`In the grand illusions of a "rising" India, Aravind Adiga has found a subject Gogol might have envied. With remorselessly and delightfully mordant wit The White Tiger anatomises the fantastic cravings of the rich; it evokes, too, with startling accuracy and tenderness, the no less desperate struggles of the deprived.' -- Pankaj Mishra

`Unlike almost any other Indian novel you might have read in recent years, this page-turner offers a completely bald, angry, unadorned portrait of the county as seen from the bottom of the heap; there's not a sniff of saffron or a swirl of sari anywhere... The Indian tourist board won't be pleased, but you'll read it in a trice and find yourself gripped.' -- Andrew Holgate, Sunday Times

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Douglas P. Murphy on 6 Dec 2008
Format: Hardcover
In contrast to the main character of The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga received an extensive education from some of the best institutions available-Columbia undergrad and then Oxford. In his book, however, Balram Halwai, the White Tiger or sweet maker, grows up with a very minimal education, scratching by barely with the ability to read in a system designed, it seems to keep one ignorant rather than to educate. In fact the whole system of castes in India, in modern day India, through the eyes of Balram, tends to rigidly, forcefully and cruelly keep one either in the category of servant and poverty or of the privileged and well-off. To a minimal extent Balram bucks the system and rises above his father and becomes a driver for a wealthy family. Even the wealthy, however, must maintain their businesses and position through a corrupt system of bribes to politicians who stay in power through a democracy that disenfranchises certainly the poor and perhaps others as well.
The book is written well with energy and a steady string of either interesting or amusing anectdotes as Balram progresses from "the darkness" or poor, rural India to Delhi which appears as a city in a state of rapid but chaotic modernization where buildings are rising steadily for either malls or job centers for outsourced work from countries like the US. Again the inequities abound for Balram,the driver, and those like him, and the superior castes appear anything but. The book is fast-paced and entertaining.
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179 of 186 people found the following review helpful By Wynne Kelly TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 Dec 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Balram Halwai is a poor low-caste Indian, the son of a rickshaw-puller who somehow manages to crawl his way up to be an entrepreneur in Bangalore. He tells his story via a series of letters written to Wen Jiabao, the Chinese Premier who is about to visit Bangalore. The poor parts of India are referred to as the Darkness which is a world filled with hunger, servitude and life-long debt. Modern Delhi is referred to as the Light. This is a world where men and women grow fat, have air-conditioned cars, mobile phones and guarded apartments with large TVs and computer games. But the Light has some very murky aspects to it - bribery, corruption and murder.

The story is told at a blazing pace. Balram is ambitious and astute. He does well to become a driver for a local landlord's family - but he wants more..... The dilemma for him is whether he can shake off his chains by honest means or whether some blood will have to flow. (I was reminded of A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam in which a widow's only way of keeping her children safe is to commit a crime.)

This is not a comfortable read - it is an angry and subversive book about the new India where any notion of the "trickle-down" theory of wealth creation is well and truly quashed. I am not surprised it won the Booker Prize. As a work of literature it is not as good a piece of work as, say, A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (also about poverty in India) but it is funny, satirical and a blistering exposé of globalisation.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By R. Wilson on 13 Jan 2010
Format: Paperback
`All I wanted was the chance to be a man'

- Balram Halwai

The White Tiger tears through the underbelly of India with an avaricious appetite. The way of life in the poorer parts of India is exposed through the eyes of Balram Halwai, a boy from a low-caste Indian family. His tempestuous journey takes him from the slums of provincial India through the servant classes of Delhi before arriving in the call-centre-capital, Bangalore.

Aravind Adiga's debut novel offers a hidden insight into the choices and options an Indian boy faces as he grows up. Through Balram we discover life in the `rooster coop' where, for the quiet murmuring underclass, options are few and desperation is great. Remarkable is the determination and ruthlessness that Balram displays to escape his fate. His unscrupulous actions are shocking, yet we are encouraged to empathise and forgive his lack of scruples. Clearly, Balram is an individual whose desperation outweighs his conscience. His rise from servitude to entrepreneurialism is beset on all sides by the inequities of an Indian society wallowing in corruption. He soon learns that to live life `as a man', he must be, quite literally, cut-throat in his approach.

The format of the narrative, structured as a letter to the Chinese Prime Minister, started and resumed each night, gives The White Tiger a sense of realism. Balram's present-time observations and ramblings darken the story into a confession. The narrative is intense and compelling; don't be surprised when you can't put this book down.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Horwood on 25 Jun 2009
Format: Paperback
This little book came as quite a surprise to me. The standard of Indian literature being notoriously variable, I still never expected such a wonderfully assured novel in the mainstream.

It's not the usual arm-breakingly thick treatise most Indian authors seem to think necessary, just an ordinary novel. It's not riddled with obscure English words that would double the reading time if you looked them all up, it's just well-written. It doesn't need to write the history and geography of India, it just uses them as the backdrop. In short, it's very readable.

The central character is a likeable chap, whatever his sins, and the story is a good one, of his rise from the gutter and crimes committed upon him and by him. It's written in epistolary form, and therefore, almost by necessity, in the first person, and he's a very honest first person. He is not above pettiness, but almost rejoices in describing his own faults. I don't even remember half of the books I read, but I remember this one very well. It's a rare pleasure, like a white tiger.
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