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on 15 August 2015
Still mulling over some of the themes in this book. Definitely worth reading. Grips you by the throat all the way.
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on 7 July 2009
A gripping story that is in the form of six letters written to the Chinese Premier by the protagonist of the book. The narrative of the taxi-driver protagonist is easy to follow and the dividedness of Indian class society is depicted well. A sufficiently pleasing enough a read although the style of writing makes the story lack a bit in emotional depth. Recommendable.
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on 12 April 2009
I LOVED this book.
It is very well written, sharp and extremely clever. It's also easy to read and draws you in instantly. At the same time, it provides a real insight into how the economic boom is affecting India's rich and poor, without preaching or alienating the reader.

I was lucky enough to read this book while I was in India and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is planning a trip there or looking for an interesting and thought-provoking book to read whilst travelling through India.

If you liked the movie 'Slumdog Millionaire', you'll love this book.
I highly recommend it.
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on 9 January 2010
I'm not sure why exactly The White Tiger won the Booker Prize. It's not as good as previous winners that I have enjoyed such as Life of Pi and Vernon God Little. However it's a great little book. The lead character is very engaging and his journey from remote village to Bangalore is strewn with funny and touching moments. Well worth a read!
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on 21 September 2009
The story (or "stories" - we'll come that in a minute) is enthralling, but I found myself wanting more, much more, from both the plot and the characters. The biggest frustration was my distinct lack of empathy for any character, which left me struggling for an incentive to finish the book.

What made reading The White Tiger more bearable was the plethora of stories, often humorous, usually poignant, that tell the journey of the main character's life in the lower caste of India's social structure. For those who have lived in and love India it may be very close the bone on occasion, espcially since it doesn't always feel authentic; almost as though the writer was telling someone elses anecdotes.

I disliked the method of storytelling through the medium of an open letter to a Premier of China. Whilst I understand, I think, the political concept behind this method, it is never made relative to the story and feels like the author thought this was a wonderfully creative idea, but the result meant I never understood the character's real motivation for doing so. It also left a gaping hole in the conclusion of the story.

I have reviewed other books that have frustrated me and suggested this is often a good thing as it usually means you've had your sensibilities and preconceptions challenged, but on this occasion The White Tiger irritated me with a lack of engaging writing or a structure to get me hooked.

I feel bitterly let down by a book that promised much; perhaps the Man Booker panel were too busy congratulating themselves on rewarding a book they thought was 'lifting the lid' on Indian sub culture to realise it was simply an unrewarding read.

It maintains two stars thanks to the series of short stories that make it more interesting.
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on 16 April 2010
I took a long time to get into this book. I did not particularly like the style but gradually came to terms with it. Much preferred William Dalrymple's The Age of Kali which wasa more mature appraoch to this same subject. Found "White Tiger" almost a puerile approach to the poverty and caste structure of India.
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on 25 January 2009
A laugh out loud modern parable would be a good overall description of the book. However, that makes this book sound little 'worthy' which couldn't be further from the truth; actually it's a fast paced journey through one man's grasp at success and overall is fantastically entertaining.

The book it written in a diary style which gives a sense of timing and pace and heightens the sense of confession. As the story unfolds it becomes clear that difficult decisions will be made and you wonder whether to dislike Balram but you can't.

The complex juxtaposition of India, enterprise, morals and personal gain are overlaid with the reality of a developing country.
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on 12 July 2009
Awesome anger - this book is a must for anyone from south Asia, or for anyone who has ever lived or visited there.

This book gives a voice to the silent slaves who keep India ticking, the ones who are treated as sub-humans, whose minds have ingrained within them their fate of servitude. We often pass these people in obliviousness or, if we are particulalry generous, pity. This book explores what really goes through the mind of someone tied to such a life, what they feel, how they harden, and the only way they can escape.

Angry, raw and suprisingly authentic. Although the very last pages were a little disappointing, it was well worth the award it received and it is well worth the read.
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on 31 January 2013
I don't know how anyone could not love this book. It is full of insights but simultaneously very funny and with a self depracating irony which is wonderfully engaging, and the conversational style is perfect and so easy to read. A real gem.
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on 6 December 2008
At the time of its booker shortlisting Adiga's novel was already generating I-love-it I-hate-it debates. Now that it has won I'd love to pitch in but find myself, unusually, lost for words, not knowing what to make of it. So this review will will read more like a balance sheet. Hopefully by the end of what is likely to be a stream of consciousness, I will have worked out what I want to say.

Booker winner - not always a plus! However, in a year when the chairman said " We have brought you fun.", that is a very definite plus. I'm not of the mindset that literary fiction should not be fun, particularly if unfun = unread. So a plus for being on a fun list, a double plus if it proves to be true. It does. (2 credits.)

The blurb on the dust jacket promises: "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." And indeed our man, Balram Halwai, from a lowly caste does climb the corporate ladder through totally disreputable means. He has no respect for either his lowly family or his wealthy employers. He is the white tiger, "the rarest of animals - the creature that comes along only once in a generation", a thing of beauty or a genetic misfit depending on your point of view. You have to cheer on a man who refuses to accept the shackles of his inheritance (1 credit) even while not condoning the method of his rising out of "the rooster coop". (1 debit). I'm getting the impression of characterisation in successful shades of grey here - Aravind using a subtler palette than the polarity of black and white. Both employer and employee have their sympathetic and their disreputable sides.(1 credit)

What of the distinction between the darkness of rural India and the lightness of entrepreneurial success? Here the brushstrokes are much more distinct, the differentiation sometimes crass. However, the narrator, Balram, is the man who has fled from village life to the city in order to make his fortune. By the end of the novel he doesn't have a guilt-free conscience, so he would talk in extreme terms - self-justification makes that a necessity. Balram is one of the most unreliable narrators I've read for a long time. (1 credit)

He's an entertaining narrator, sardonic and, despite his mock humility, completely self-delusional, writing his story in a series of letters to the Chinese premier, who is about to embark on a state visit to India. The son of a rickshaw-puller, he betrays his lack of education with ill-informed statements about the visiting politician's country: "Now, since I doubt that you have rickshaw-pullers in China - or in any other civilised nation on earth - you will have to see one for yourself." Quite what Balram wishes to prove in his lengthy epistles is anyone's guess - perhaps how great a place the new India is now that it is inhabited by entrepreneurs. The subtext tells a completely different tale. In an incident mirroring the road accident that occured when Balram was a chauffeur, the new Indian man reveals himself to possess a greater moral repugnance than his original employer. It's too obvious a mirrored incident to be great literature, but it is here that Adiga's authorial voice is to be found. (1 credit)

Misled by the front cover blurb, I found the plot surprising. I was expecting corporate cut and thrust and skullduggery, a Delhi-Dallas, if you will. Balram's rise centres on a single incident, one that is flagmarked but takes so long in coming that, looking back, there's a "is that all"? effect. (Deduct two points for dashed expectations.)

However that wasn't enough to affect my overall reaction or enjoyment of The White Tiger. While Indian readers have condemned the simplistic nature of the class differences depicted, being Caucasian, with what is probably a stereotypical view of Indian society, I am probably Adiga's ideal audience. And the final scoresheet of 6 credits, 3 debits evidences what I knew as I turned the final page. I enjoyed this novel. Only now I might be able to review it!
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