Raw and energetic - a triumph.,
This review is from: The White Tiger (Paperback)
Readers of The White Tiger are made aware of the outcome right from the beginning. The book is constructed as a series of letters to Chinese premier Jiabao from its writer and protagonist, Balram Halwai, describing his ascent from abject poverty and filth to wealth and comparative comfort, central to which is the brutal murder of his master and employer.
His patience, persistence and ingenuity are all called on just to keep himself alive, and in time he creates a sequence of opportunities which facilitate his climb to wealth against the opposition of a crowd of savages and criminals.
There is a beautiful shading of characters in Adiga's novel; no personality is truly black and white and even the condescending Mr. Ashok, Balram's master who fails to understand the seriousness of Balram's plight while perceiving that he is being sympathetic, is pitied as much as despised by the reader.
Balram himself is painted neither as a hero or villain though he is both; an intelligent victim who comes to understand the nature of his prison and plot a barbaric way out. His is a fascinating role: cunning but cautious, selfish but tinged with conscience, ambitious but always afflicted by an instinct for subservience bred into him by his background. His habits and actions are so consistent and believable that there is a real solidity to the character; his gradual awakening to the division of the classes and the method by which he must exit his predicament is enjoyably dark and corrupt. The novel focuses on this process more than the actions themselves, giving us the chance to understand and relish Balram's development, as well as the influences of a handful of significant others in the book.
The White Tiger is outstanding - a vicious, searing outburst against the poverty and squalor endured by India's innumerable underclass which the country's government ignores. It is a deserving award winner and a ripping tale in its own right.