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The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

The Book:

Source for ‘The Book’ section : From Wikipedia
Balram lived in the village of Laxmangarh, Bihar (not the village of Laxmangarh in Rajasthan), a community deep in the “Darkness” of rural India. The son of a rickshaw-puller; his family is too poor for him to be able to finish school. Despite being clever and being promised a scholarship, Balram instead is forced to break coals and wipe tables in a Dhanbad teashop. He originally went by the name “Munna”, as his parents had never named him, but his schoolteacher Mr. Krishna wanted to give him a new name since Munna simply meant “boy” in Hindi. He named him Balram in reference to the brother of the Hindu God Krishna. His last name, Halwai, is derived from “sweet-maker” in the caste system.

In Dhanbad, he learns to drive after learning about the high salary paid to drivers. After learning how to drive, Balram gets his break when a rich man from his village (known as “The Stork” because of his penchant for taking a cut of the local fishermen’s profits) hires him as a chauffeur for his son, Ashok, who lives in the city of New Delhi. Having recently returned from a stint in America, Ashok is conflicted by the corruption and harshness of life in India, and has to deal with his family’s unhappiness with his foreign marriage to his current wife, a member of a different caste. The city is a revelation for Balram. As he drives his master and his wife to shopping malls and call centers, Balram becomes increasingly aware of immense wealth and opportunity all around him, and the contrast between the master and servant classes. Through these experiences, Balram becomes increasingly worldly and ambitious.

As Balram broods over his situation, he realizes that there is only one thing he can do to become part of this glamorous new India — murder his employer, and escape from servitude. Ashok’s increasing involvement in political corruption and divorce from his wife provides Balram with his opportunity. One day as Ashok is carrying seven hundred thousand rupees in cash as money bribes for politicians in New Delhi, Balram murders him and flees to Bangalore with his nephew Dharam. Balram uses the loot to bribe a police commissioner and create his own taxi company. He changes his name to Ashok Sharma, and becomes a wealthy “entrepreneur” in India’s new technological society thus completing his emergence from the Darkness into the Light.

The View:

This is the first book that I am posting ‘The Book’ section from Wikipedia. Firstly Wiki had a better description of the book than GoodReads and secondly, GoodReads site was down (I know, I almost fainted when the unavailable message came up on the site).

If I had to describe this book in a single word it would be ‘Honest’. The plot, events, locations, characters and thoughts were all depicted truthfully as best as it can be done. Since I come from India, I could picturise this plot as if it occurred right in front of my eyes.

There are numerous reviews and comments across the web for this award-winning book and I had a lot of expectations from it. This book did not let me down. The pages flowed easily, taking us through different phases of Balram’s life. There were a lot of description of events and places which would have annoyed me on a typical day, but with ‘The White Tiger’ I felt that they added a depth to the plot. As I swept through the book, I kept questioning myself if I should root for Balram. He definitely seemed immoral and even killed someone to get his way. In reality if I had come across someone like him, I would have best kept my distance…but with Balram, I felt a connection. I knew what he did was wrong, but I could empathize with him. The things he went through as a servant and as a poor citizen of the country, really moved me.

I enjoyed this book tremendously and wanted more of it. I don’t know if he really posted the letter and would have liked to see if the recipient had any thoughts on it. Not that it matters, but just being curious. Rated a 5 on 5, all the raves and reviews of this book are so worth it.



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