Title: The White Tiger: Book Review
Book: The White Tiger
Author: Aravind Adiga
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Genre: Picaresque Novel
First Published: 2008
Major Characters: Balram Halwai, Mr. Ashok, Pinky Madam
Search “Best funny Indian novel” on Google, and you will find The White Tiger at the top. (That’s how I found it)
The White Tiger is the winner of the Man Booker Prize 2008, the same year it was published. It is the story of Balram Halwai, who is a servant, a philosopher, an entrepreneur, and a murderer. (How the heck can a person be all of these at the same time?)
The White Tiger is one of the most powerful novels I have read. The story reveals the harsh reality of poor people in India. The White Tiger is the voice of every deprived person from India, who is poor, trapped in the system, and wants to achieve something in life selfishly. The story shows you the contrast between the lives of poor and rich, those from the darkness and those from the light, men with small bellies and men with big bellies.
“See, the poor dream all their lives of getting enough to eat and looking like the rich. And what do the rich dream of?? Losing weight and looking like the poor.”
– Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger
The White Tiger is a brilliant story with dark humor. If you are an Indian (like me), you are not going to feel proud after you read this novel. Balram Halwai is the son of a rickshaw-puller living in Bihar. His journey will show you every awful and disgusting thing you need to know about India- corruption, poverty, oppression, slavery. Balram Halwai lives in Darkness, and in order to escape this darkness and enter into the light, he must first become a part of this dirty system. He has to pay the price for the victory. While he may succeed in elevating his social position, he has to continue living in a country paralyzed by corruption.
“It’s amazing. The moment you show cash, everyone knows your language.”
–Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger
Through the story, you will know how the rich oppress the poor, how the corruption is common between government employees and political leaders, how the education system is of no help to the poor, what is the struggle of those belonging to the darkness and how could they free themselves from this struggle. The White Tiger exposes the prevalence of corruption throughout the Indian institutions- hospitals, schools, police, industries, etc. It tells the inevitable truth about the Indian politicians and their promises they make before elections.
All this serious and controversial stuff told with humor will help you to feel terrible about the Indian system and at the same time make you laugh. Throughout the book, you will get exposed to the inner thoughts of Balram, which is quite enjoyable. There were times when I found myself laughing my heart out.
“You ask, ‘Are you a man or a demon?’ Neither, I say. I have woken up, and the rest of you are sleeping, and that is the only difference between us.”
― Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger
You wouldn’t actually like to imagine yourself in the place of Balram; this is not a story of love and honesty. You wouldn’t get any solid lessons from the book apart from the exposure to the real struggle of the deprived in India. But the novel is worth reading. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a brilliant, captivating, and funny story.