The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

ISBN: 8172238479

First published: 2008
Pages: 328
Binding: Hardcover
Genre: Fiction
Price: INR 316
Author: Aravind Adiga

Synopsis: The divide between the rich and the poor is great. It is great enough to stop men with small imaginations and smaller ambitions. But it isn’t great enough if a man is determined to do what it takes to change his fate, if the man is a White Tiger.

UCV says: So I finally read The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. I finally understood what the hype was all about. And I finally know what it takes for a debut novel to win the prestigious Man Booker Prize. And those who criticised this book because they've taken it upon themselves to criticise anything that's criticiseable (I know there's no such word), well, that's just too bad! Because this book is as sharp as they can get; yessir it is!

Perhaps I fell in love with the book, but how can one help it? The book fascinates from the word 'Go!' When was the last time you saw a satirical novel written in the form of a fantastic letter addressed to the premier of China!? My jaw dropped in awe over Adiga's style of narrative at page 1 and it still hasn't closed. Throughout the narrative, the author keeps bringing up Jiabao's name, and the sense of the letter is never lost. With his ample, casual references to China, when addressing Wen (teehee, could not resist that), Adiga never forgets, nor lets his readers forget, the brilliance of his style.

The other thing about The White Tiger that has stayed with me is the bitterness. SO. MUCH. BITTERNESS.  Adiga paints such a powerfully grim picture of what he calls the Darkness, one would think he was born there, lived there, endured the unendurable there. The author cleaves the nation in two halves - into the two worlds of (to use his words) 'men with bellies' and men without them. He points to one India of the shiny, glass-walled malls and the other India of the inescapable 'Rooster Coop'.

Adiga's hero, anti-hero if you like, is Munna alias Balram Halwai, son of rickshaw puller alias Ashok Sharma, owner of White Tiger Technologies, and this is his story of crossing over from the Darkness into the Light. This is the story of a 'social entrepreneur', who seizes opportunity when he sees it, since no one will lay out golden roads for him. He kills a few moralities and people on the way, but so what? There isn't another way. Adiga delves deep into the mind of a man, who has to choose between a servile existence and becoming a master of his destiny. And the conundrum ain't easy to sort. Balram Halwai drags his readers along the gutters through the confounding streets of Delhi in a driver's seat, through the whorehouse and the servants' quarters, through a servant-turned-murderer's mind, through a fugitive's head and finally to an entrepreneur's chair, writing midnight mails to the premier of China. And he does it with so much page-turning ease!

The only place he lost me was in the protagonist's moment of resolve. Adiga's plot lost a little hold at the point when Balram decided to become his own master. There are exquisite psychological symbols of despair and agony, but his clear voice is lost among those. It seems all too sudden, when Balram strikes his master down with a surprising alacrity. Perhaps it was intended thus, since life-changing decisions don't really take place in one defining moment, as they show in the movies. A switch is flipped, unnoticed, after wounds have festered for a long time.

Adiga's pen seems to singe the paper with exactly the kind of long-suffering wounds, or perhaps he is just a super storyteller. Either way, The White Tiger is, as they call it these days, RAWRing!

Rating: 4/5


  1. sadly, i couldn't finish this one.

    Got so bored that i left it midway. Maybe one day i will.

    P.S| I guess we have to officially allow multiple reviews now. This is the second review of the book on the blog. The hardest part is how do we update it in the pages. Admins, help.

  2. Oh. I did a search for it, but nothing turned up. So I posted it. Remove it by all means, if duplication is something you want to avoid. No hassle.

  3. I picked up this book 3 or 4 times but never read a single page! Fifth time lucky maybe?

    @FL - I always refer to the 'Browse By - Authors' tab, and check if the author that I am reviewing is already present. But some of the latest reviews's author names haven't been updated. I feel there should also be a list of ALL the books reviewed, but that's a huge task and will take a really long time.
    Next best option is to make sure to keep the author page up to date. Ask everyone to check if the author is already present. If yes, then check the books under that author. Only then proceed with the review. (If you want to avoid multiple reviews that is)

  4. @urmi

    No its okay. We have all been postponing the inevitable. Its time to let writers post what they read irrespective of if its been reviewed.

    No issue. keep reviewing. I have an idea how to handle the posts

  5. @chandana

    There is a list of all the books reviewed. Under the genre tab. But yeah, the last 15-20 posts haven't been updated. Too much work at my end. No excuse though. I will update everything by tomoro

  6. I will prefer multiple reviews :) gives more input about a book ... and as for the updation , i think the label will pick it up :)

    BTW , am in same boat as you FL for this book .. know it is a ood one , but not able to finish yet .. some day !!

  7. even i check d "browse by authors" tab first. n i read this book after d first review ;) i like this review too :) d book is FANTASTIC, defintely not something u guys should miss! :)

  8. @nimue...the label won't pick it up. It will only pick the specific post. I have added a different label for all multiple reviews from now on. Now, it will pick it up.

  9. this is the first positive review I have come across! now must pick it up :)

    also I check the authors tab and check what all books have been reviewed for the author if present.
    anyway, there are a lot of tools which can auto pick such things. let me know if help is needed.

  10. This is one book I finished with great difficulty, but the fact that some parts of it still come to my mind at unexpected times is I guess a good thing.

  11. Whenever I'd pick this book, I'd immediately keep it down.. Just felt it was too boring.. But your review is so brilliantly written that I feel like reading it now!!

    Great job.. nice review :)

  12. Whenever I'd pick this book, I'd immediately keep it down.. Just felt it was too boring.. But your review is so brilliantly written that I feel like reading it now!!

    Great job.. nice review :)

  13. Glad I've been able to change some of your opinions about this book. Read it again with an open mind, and you'll see what I mean. :) Thanks all!

  14. I reviewed it with great stars. An ultimate book for those who can understand the depth of ironical sattire in contemporary fiction camouflage. One of the rare books on my shelf that I treat as a benchmark before judging the social soul search associated with similar stories, a book that I have read 3 times.

  15. I did read your review Pulkit, and liked it. I think we agree wholeheartedly on the merits of this book.


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