Learn more about CCRLS
Reading recommendations from Novelist
Online learning resources
Cover image for The white tiger : a novel
Format:
Title:
The white tiger : a novel
ISBN:
9781416562597

9781416562603
Edition:
1st Free Press hardcover ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Free Press, 2008.
Physical Description:
276 pages ; 23 cm
Summary:
Balram Halwai is a complicated man. Servant. Philosopher. Entrepreneur. Murderer. Over the course of seven nights, by the scattered light of a preposterous chandelier, Balram tells the terrible and transfixing story of how he came to be a success in life -- having nothing but his own wits to help him along.
Holds:

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Status
Searching...
Adiga
Searching...
Searching...
FICTION - ADIGA
Searching...
Searching...
FICTION ADIGA
Searching...
Searching...
Adiga, A.
Searching...
Searching...
ADIGA
Searching...
Searching...
Adiga
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

Introducing a major literary talent,The White Tigeroffers a story of coruscating wit, blistering suspense, and questionable morality, told by the most volatile, captivating, and utterly inimitable narrator that this millennium has yet seen.Balram Halwai is a complicated man. Servant. Philosopher. Entrepreneur. Murderer. Over the course of seven nights, by the scattered light of a preposterous chandelier, Balram tells us the terrible and transfixing story of how he came to be a success in life -- having nothing but his own wits to help him along.Born in the dark heart of India, Balram gets a break when he is hired as a driver for his village's wealthiest man, two house Pomeranians (Puddles and Cuddles), and the rich man's (very unlucky) son. From behind the wheel of their Honda City car, Balram's new world is a revelation. While his peers flip through the pages ofMurder Weekly("Love -- Rape -- Revenge!"), barter for girls, drink liquor (Thunderbolt), and perpetuate the Great Rooster Coop of Indian society, Balram watches his employers bribe foreign ministers for tax breaks, barter for girls, drink liquor (single-malt whiskey), and play their own role in the Rooster Coop. Balram learns how to siphon gas, deal with corrupt mechanics, and refill and resell Johnnie Walker Black Label bottles (all but one). He also finds a way out of the Coop that no one else inside it can perceive.Balram's eyes penetrate India as few outsiders can: the cockroaches and the call centers; the prostitutes and the worshippers; the ancient and Internet cultures; the water buffalo and, trapped in so many kinds of cages that escape is (almost) impossible, the white tiger. And with a charisma as undeniable as it is unexpected, Balram teaches us that religion doesn't create virtue, and money doesn't solve every problem -- but decency can still be found in a corrupt world, and you can get what you want out of life if you eavesdrop on the right conversations.Sold in sixteen countries around the world,The White TigerrecallsThe Death of VishnuandBangkok 8in ambition, scope, and narrative genius, with a mischief and personality all its own. Amoral, irreverent, deeply endearing, and utterly contemporary, this novel is an international publishing sensation -- and a startling, provocative debut.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

A brutal view of India's class struggles is cunningly presented in Adiga's debut about a racist, homicidal chauffer. Balram Halwai is from the "Darkness," born where India's downtrodden and unlucky are destined to rot. Balram manages to escape his village and move to Delhi after being hired as a driver for a rich landlord. Telling his story in retrospect, the novel is a piecemeal correspondence from Balram to the premier of China, who is expected to visit India and whom Balram believes could learn a lesson or two about India's entrepreneurial underbelly. Adiga's existential and crude prose animates the battle between India's wealthy and poor as Balram suffers degrading treatment at the hands of his employers (or, more appropriately, masters). His personal fortunes and luck improve dramatically after he kills his boss and decamps for Bangalore. Balram is a clever and resourceful narrator with a witty and sarcastic edge that endears him to readers, even as he rails about corruption, allows himself to be defiled by his bosses, spews coarse invective and eventually profits from moral ambiguity and outright criminality. It's the perfect antidote to lyrical India. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


New York Review of Books Review

The narrator of this first novel, which recently won the Man Booker Prize, is a charismatic entrepreneur in India - and a murderer. BALRAM Halwai, the narrator of Aravind Adiga's first novel, "The White Tiger," is a modern Indian hero. In a country inebriated by its newfound economic prowess, he is a successful entrepreneur, a self-made man who has risen on the back of India's much-vaunted technology industry. In a nation proudly shedding a history of poverty and underdevelopment, he represents, as he himself says, "tomorrow." Balram's triumphal narrative, framed somewhat inexplicably as a letter to the visiting Chinese premier, unfurls over seven days and nights in Bangalore. It's a rather more complicated story than Balram initially lets on. Before moving to Bangalore, he was a driver for the weak-willed son of a feudal landlord. One rainy day in Delhi, he crushed the skull of his employer and stole a bag containing a large amount of money, capital that financed his Bangalore taxi business. That business - ferrying technology workers to and from their jobs - depends, in turn, on keeping the police happy with the occasional bribe. As a parable of the new India, then, Balram's tale has a distinctly macabre twist He is not (or not only) an entrepreneur but a roguish criminal with a remarkable capacity for self-justification. Likewise, the background against which he operates is not just a resurgent economy and nation but a landscape of corruption, inequality and poverty. In some of the book's more convincing passages, Balram describes his family's life in "the Darkness," a region deep in the heartland marked by medieval hardship, where brutal landlords hold sway, children are pulled out of school into indentured servitude and elections are routinely bought and sold. This grim world is far removed from the glossy images of Hollywood stars and technology entrepreneurs that have been displacing earlier (and equally clichéd) Indian stereotypes featuring yoga and spirituality. It is not a world that rich urban Indians like to see. Indeed, when Adiga's book recently won the Man Booker Prize, some in India lambasted it as a Western conspiracy to deny the country's economic progress. Yet Adiga isn't impressed by such nationalistic fervor. In bare, unsentimental prose, he strips away the sheen of a self-congratulatory nation and reveals instead a country where the social compact is being stretched to the breaking point There is much talk in this novel of revolution and insurrection: Balram even justifies his employer's murder as an act of class warfare. "The White Tiger" is a penetrating piece of social commentary, attuned to the inequalities that persist despite India's new prosperity. It correctly identifies and deflates - middle-class India's collective euphoria But Adiga, a former correspondent for Time magazine who lives in Mumbai, is less successful as a novelist His detailed descriptions of various vile aspects of Indian life are relentless - and ultimately a little monotonous. Every moment, it seems, is bleak, pervaded by "the Darkness." Every scene, every phrase, is a blunt instrument, wielded to remind Adiga's readers of his country's cruelty. The characters can also seem superficial. Balram's landlord boss and his wife are caricatures of the insensitive upper classes, cruel to and remote from their employees. Although Balram himself is somewhat more interesting, his credulousness and naïveté often ring false. When he goes to buy alcohol for his employer, he finds himself "dazzled by the sight of so much English liquor." When he visits a shopping mall, he is "conscious of a perfume in the air, of golden light, of cool, air-conditioned air, of people in T-shirts and jeans. ... I saw an elevator going up and down that seemed made of pure golden glass." The problem with such scenes isn't simply that they're overdone. In their surfeit of emblematic detail, they reduce the characters to symbols. There is an absence of human complexity in "The White Tiger," not just in its characters but, more problematically, in its depiction of a nation that is in reality caught somewhere between Adiga's vision and the shinier version he so clearly - and fittingly - derides. Lacking this more balanced perspective, the novel feels simplistic: an effective polemic, perhaps, but an incomplete portrait of a nation and a people grappling with the ambiguities of modernity. Akash Kapur is writing a nonfiction book about modern India.


Library Journal Review

This first novel by Indian writer Adiga depicts the awakening of a low-caste Indian man to the degradation of servitude. While the early tone of the book calls to mind the heartbreaking inequities of Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance, a better comparison is to Frederick Douglass's narrative about how he broke out of slavery. The protagonist, Balram Halwai, is initially delighted at the opportunity to become the driver for a wealthy man. But Balram grows increasingly angry at the ways he is excluded from society and looked down upon by the rich, and he murders his employer. He reveals this murder from the start, so the mystery is not what he did but why he would kill such a kind man. The climactic murder scene is wonderfully tense, and Balram's evolution from likable village boy to cold-blooded killer is fascinating and believable. Even more surprising is how well the narrative works in the way it's written as a letter to the Chinese premier, who's set to visit Bangalore, India. Recommended for all libraries.-Evelyn Beck, Piedmont Technical Coll., Greenwood, SC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.