Saturday, December 27, 2008

The White Tiger

Success. I paid no attention to Aravind Adiga’s debut novel, The White Tiger, until it won the Man Booker prize, and then I decided to read it. Adiga is imaginative and clever in the way he has structured the novel, and in how he explores the levels of darkness in a society polarized by wealth. The narrator and protagonist is Balram Halwai, who rose from poverty in a villiage in India to become the driver for a wealthy man in Delhi, and then the owner of a fleet of cars serving Bangalore. His path to wealth was through murder and theft. The novel is structured as letters from Balram to the premier of China who is about to visit India, and wants to learn how to apply the entrepreunership of India for China. Adiga presents wealth in India as corrupt, and the wealthy as venal and abusive to those who work for them. While the darkness can be comic at times, the starkness of the contrast between wealth and poverty, and the triumph of evil makes The White Tiger a stark tale with characters who are more caricature than authentic.

Rating: Two-star (Mildly Recommended)

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