The White Tiger

I've recently finished reading The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. I think this may be the author's first novel and he won the 2009 Pulizer Prize for it - seriously, where do you go from there Aravind??

Wickedly funny and at times very dark, this novel presented as a series of letters, written from midnight to 3am, by self profressed entrepeneur extraordinaire, Balram Halwai to a Chinese ambassodar visiting India. In his letters Balram sets out to give an account of his rise from the slums of "the darkness" to the servant of the rich to the glorious success he now has as an Indian businessman. Oh and did I mention he killed a man once.

Balram is an extremely rational and intelligent man. And when he begins his autobiography he depicts himself in a sympathetic light as a young boy and a resourceful but naive young man. This characterisation, combined with the present day Balram's matter of fact references to his act of murder make for an intriguing story. You find out pretty early on in Balram's letters who his victim was, but his close (at times almost intimate) relationship with this man only adds to the intrigue!You know how it ends, so what you really want to know as you read is why?!

Balram's blase account of shocking behaviour of the wealthy classes in modern India communicate how common corruption and tragedy are in that country. My facination with Indian authored novels can probably be boiled down to this baffling acceptance of daily injustice and humilation that a COLOSSAL number of people face. 

The representation of Indian society, the characters and the narration of this book are all equally impressive. There is a great depth to Balram. Though he depicts himself as an obedient, lowly and at times fearful servant, you get the feeling that this narrator is too calculated. This makes his account of events unreliable, but that's just part of the fun of this book.

If you're interested in India and you like heroes with dirty hands you'll enjoy this book. If you're a writer it is worth the read just to see Adiga's narrative style. I'm sure it's not revolutionary, but he puts a clever twist on story telling and has created a brilliant character.

Favourite quote: "You were looking for the keys, but the door was always open."

Do you like your heroes to be noble or do you prefer that they have a dark side? What's the protagonist in your current WIP like?


  1. have you ever been to india? i would love to go! might have to read this one now.

  2. That was specific without spoiling it. Good job. Makes me want to read the book.