The White Tiger - A Review

I came across The White Tiger in my aunty house and knew I would have to read it quickly. I'm not a huge fan of borrowing books, so I would need to finish it in the course of my stay. Fortunately, it was a compelling book and so finishing it in a matter of days proved easier than I had anticipated.

The title, The White Tiger, triggered my curiosity. After all, I knew it wasn't a tale about animals...at least not in the literal sense of the word. And when I discovered what the phrase meant to the story, I wholly approved. I'd give the title 8/10.

The story opens with an Indian man writing a letter to a Chinese politician as a pre-emptive measure against the lies he is certain his own politicians will tell about India. The entire story is told in this letter, retrospectively, in the course of about a week. It is a story about this man's rise from ‘the Darkness’ to the light, from stark poverty to riches and influence.  Does this premise sound familiar to you? Don’t allow that to put you off. The White Tiger is a tale with so much wit and a particularly unique perspective. It is not your regular rags to riches story.

I saw so many parallels between the India no one talks about and the Nigeria that no one talks about. And the topic though heavy was treated with such lightness and humour that you learn and are moved, without feeling weighed down by the hopelessness of the world you are being shown. I would give the plot a 9/10.

The novel has no sympathetic characters which makes it easier to swallow the incidents that take place to some degree. Despite this, you are given a window into the different motivations of the various characters and are able to understand why they do what they do...at least to some extent. The voice of the main character, Balram Halwai, is strong and memorable, somewhat brutal whilst also being funny. If you want to see how that's achieved, read the book. I can still hear Balram’s voice in my head and his tone is savage! However, the other characters are somewhat two dimensional. I would give the characters 6/10.

Never before in human history have so few owed so much to so many, Mr Jiabao. A handful of men in this country have trained the remaining 99.9 percent - as strong, as talented, as intelligent in every way - to exist in perpetual servitude; a servitude so strong that you can put the key of his emancipation in a man's hands and he will throw it back at you with a curse.

You'll have to come here and see it for yourself to believe it. Every day millions wake up at dawn - stand in dirty, crowded buses - get off at their masters' posh houses - and then clean the floors, wash the dishes, weed the garden, feed their children, press their feet - all for a pittance. I will never envy the rich of America or England, Mr Jiabao: they have no servants there. They cannot even begin to understand what a good life is.

Adiga’s style is dry, yet descriptive. Thought the tale could drag on a little at times, I found the hypocrisy, the brutality, the truth to be so compelling and I was eager to read how it would all end. His style, I would give 8/10.

This book is a must read. 31/40

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