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The White Tiger

Author: Aravind Adiga
Year: 2008
Pages: 276
Rating:92/100 -- fun and interesting
Amazon: The White Tiger

The White Tiger is the first novel by Indian author Aravind Adiga. The book won the 2008 Man Booker Prize. The novel delves into the the rise of India and includes strong commentary on India's culture, politics, economy and tradition.

The story's protagonist, narrator, and white tiger, is Balram Halwai. He is from the Indian countryside, also know as "the darkness", where he grew up in extreme poverty. But much like in Slumdog Millionaire, Balram learns everything he needs to know in this supposedly knowledge baron enviornment. Balram's ambition seems to set him apart, and he turns himself into an "entrepreneur" to work his way up the harsh ladder of opportunity within India.

The novel takes the form of a series of letters written late at night by Balram to Wen Jiabao, the Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China. In the letters, Balram describes his rise from lowly origins to his current position as an entrepreneur in Bangalore, as well as his views on the social injustice and human stupidity in his country. He wants to share the real truth with the Premier instead of the sugar-coated propaganda that is commonly referenced. This structure allows Adiga to share the hidden underbelly of India with the reader in a fashion that is often overlooked or ignored by the upper class and Western world.

Litty's Take
I especially enjoyed the book since my trip to India provided a great frame of reference for the story. In India, I was amazed by the impeccable service that I received. I warmed too it so quickly that I completely overlooked the struggle of these people. The White Tiger was a perfect "reality check" to give a voice to those who are overlooked and ignored so easily.

To make it in India is certainly possible. But in order to see the "light", one must first find the darkness within himself to get there. It's a huge contradiction. Like all developed nations, India has become so frighteningly complex. Now, I am left wondering about the true India. Is it the amazing country that I witnessed or is it the corrupt and evil place in Slumdog? Is it the happy and glorious heaven of a Bollywood film? Or is it the absurd, complex and corrupt nation that Adiga swears upon?

I loved this book. The story is great. The writing is clear, poignant and gets right down to it. The reader doesn't have to wonder about the author's intentions, or try and figure out the meaning of vague analogies. After I finished this book I felt like I knew something about India that I didn't know before and that nobody else has been willing to share. That's cool.

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