Arvind Adiga's 'The White Tiger ' - A review
The White Tiger
This book was the winner of the Man Booker prize for the year 2008. There have been many authors of Indian origin who have gone on to win Man Booker prize for their published works and Adiga is one of the additions to that list. As of now another author Jeet Thayil's first novel `Narcopolis` has made it to the short list for the Man Booker Prize of 2012 .
About the author Aravind Adiga
Aravind Adiga was born in India in 1974 and was raised partly in Australia. He attended Columbia and Oxford universities.He worked as a correspondent for the Time magazine and Financial times after completing his university education .After globe trotting for a few years he now lives in Mumbai. According to Adiga , the influence on The White Tiger are 3 black American writers of the post - World war 2 era namely , Ralph Ellison , James Baldwin and Richard Wright.
As a writer, according to his own words , he prefers not to feel tied to any identity at all, but draws influences from wherever they come from ! His independance in thinking and clarity of vision is evident in his writings . His book The White Tiger is based on his experiences with various men he met while travelling through India.
According to Adiga, there is a kind of continuous murmur or growl beneath the middle class life in India, but this noise never gets recorded ! There is also a lot of humor and violence in the every day Indian life which comes from the general helplessness of the masses and the resultant frustration!
The story of The White Tiger
Adiga's hero or rather Anti hero in this book is called Balram Halwai , who comes from a lowly background looking for every opportunity to better his destiny /life .Balram is a complicated man who is a great talker who is more than willing to tell us the terrible, disturbing and terrifying story of how he became a success in life ! Through his account we come to know that he begins as a servant, becomes a philosopher, driver, enterprenuere and finally a murderer !!! Sometimes amusing,sometimes sad, his tale is told without remorse nor regret about what happened ..
He is philosophical like most Indians are when they have to look back at their life and the mistakes and blunders they have committed ! At the same time , Balram’s tale is compelling ,makes us realise that he is not an ordinary man,has loads of charm and with an unexpected and undeniable charisma. Balram through his account of his life , teaches readers that religion and money dont solve problems in life and never has done so as people tend to think and believe . But according to him decency can still find its way in a corrupt world and system !
My views on The White Tiger
The novel is compelling and rich in detail right from the corrupt/non corrupt workings of the police force to the political system and from the servant classes of Delhi to the businessman of Bangalore.The idea is taken and built in a substratum of Indian relaities.Most things in the novel corelates to the Indian way of thinkng and Indian way of life – The Indian Reality as Adiga calls it .
It makes us think and wonder as to how others must feel looking at all the visible murk underneath the superficial gaiety and affluence in our society . Adiga writes about the binary nature of Indian culture and how the caste system has been reduced to Men with big bellies and Men with small bellies .India has seen tumultuous changes in the past 50 years .It has no doubt been for the better for most people living in the cities and mega cities but a lot of poorer India has been left confused and perplexed by the new India that is being formed around them.In some ways they lead their own kind of confused lives since they are largely overlooked by those in power and those who bring in the changes in the Indian society.
This is the kind of black comedy that is hard hitting ,portraying the conflicts that is specific to India through the eyes of Balram , who is a complicated man who though amoral, has charisma and plenty of charm. It has its funny moments like when he talks about dreams – the dreams of the rich and the dreams of the poor ! All in all an entertaining book that holds your attention and very realistic in the depiction of its characters .I could identify or rather empathise with most of what was being experienced by the characters. But the details might shock the international readers because it is hard hitting as I stated earlier , but that is India! Adiga has come out a winner with this work and personally speaking I found it an excellent book that is definitely worth reading .
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