Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but not engaging, 28 Feb 2009
This review is from: The White Tiger (Hardcover)
Balram Halwai sits alone in a seemingly palatial office in Bangalore and over the course of seven nights writes a series of open letters to the chinese premier who is soon to visit India.

In his letters Balram gives an account of his life. Born the son of a Rickshaw puller in poor rural India, he tells us how he struggled against the poverty of his background, learning to drive, escaping to the city as chauffeur to a rich family, and eventually becoming an entrepreneur in his own right. However this is not a straightforward uplifting rags to riches story. It is a dark tale of exploitation, corruption and murder.

This is a book about the dark side of progress, about the exploitation of the poor by the rich, about the corruption of democracy, but above all about ambition, about how it is a driver for freedom but how in overreaching itself it becomes ultimately destructive.

The book does not take sides, it looks at the old India (the Darkness) and the new India (ironically referred to as the Light), the ambitious and the unambitious, the rich and the poor, considers them all, and damns them all equally.

The White Tiger is a book full of imagery and symbolism, from the title itself which speaks of the narrator's feelings of uniqueness, through the terrific recurring metaphor of the rooster coop, to the repeated image of an empty fort. (the ultimate emptiness of ambition ?).

It is a wholly entertaining read. As a reader it picks you up and pulls you along at a terrific pace. However I don't feel it deserves five stars because the characters don't engage. They are all a little two dimensional, we don't really get inside them.

Overallthough, recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars (325 customer reviews)
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P. G. Harris
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