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The White Tiger

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1 The White Tiger on Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:29 pm

Kazuki

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The white tiger- Aravind Adiga, winner of Man-booker prize (2008)

I recently had the displeasure of reading this book for a school project and was wondering what others felt about it. The book's just a false and unrealistic portrayal of some Indian who leads a very wierd life.
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The White Tiger is the debut novel by Indian author Aravind Adiga. It was first published in 2008 and won the Man Booker Prize in the same year. The novel provides a dark comical view of modern day life in India through the narration of Balram Halwai, the main character. The overall main theme of the novel is the contrast between India's rise as a modern global economy and the working class people who live in crushing rural poverty. Other themes touched on include corruption endemic to Indian society and politics, familial loyalty versus independence, religious tensions between Hindus and Muslims, the experience of returning to India after living in America, globalization, and the tensions between India and China as superpower countries in Asia.

Plot summary
The novel takes the form of a series of letters written late at night by Balram Halwai, the protagonist, to Wen Jiabao, the Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, on the eve of his visit to India. In the letters, Balram describes his rise from lowly origins to his current position as an entrepreneur in Bangalore, as well as his views on India's caste system and its political corruption.

The protagonist Balram lives in the village of Laxmangarh, a fictional village in 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, and instead he has to work in a teashop, breaking coals and wiping tables. His parents originally named him “Munna”, but one of his teachers wanted to give him a new name since Munna means “boy” in Hindi. The name Balram refers to the elder brother of the Hindu god Krishna. His last name, Halwai, is derived from “sweet-maker” in the caste system.

After learning how to drive, Balram gets his break when a rich man from his village, known simply as "The Stork" because of his long nose, hires him as a chauffeur, allowing him to live in the city of New Delhi, the "Light". The city is a revelation and eye-opening experience for Balram. As he drives his master and his family to shopping malls and call centers, Balram becomes increasingly aware of immense wealth and opportunity all around him, while knowing that he will never be able to gain access to that world. Through these experiences, Balram learns much about the world and later states that the streets of India provided him with all the education he needed.

Having recently returned from a stint in America, Ashok, one of the Stork's sons, is conflicted by the corruption and harshness of life in India. He also has to deal with his family’s unhappiness for marrying his current wife, Pinky Madam, as the two of them married in the US, not in India, which causes them to lose respect in the caste system. Ashok’s father also did not approve of the marriage because Pinky Madam is of another caste.

As Balram broods over his situation, he realizes that there is only one way he could become part of this glamorous new India — to murder his employer, Ashok, and escape from servitude. However, Ashok's participation in funding political corruption leads to his liberal and free-thinking spirit's demise and gives Balram a chance to become an entrepreneur. One day as Ashok is carrying seven hundred thousand rupees in cash as money bribes for politicians in New Delhi, Balram decides to murder him. The murder is a success as Ashok’s throat is slashed, propelling Balram to flee to Bangalore with his cousin Dharam. With the seven hundred thousand rupees he stole, Balram creates his own taxi company and changes his name to Ashok Sharma. Thus he becomes a wealthy entrepreneur in India's new technological society and emerges as a part of the top caste in the Indian society of the Light, namely the world belonging to rich people who live in large urbanized cities.

Have any of you even read the book? Did he really deserve the Award?

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2 Re: The White Tiger on Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:52 am

Omkar

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Say what?!

Blasphemy! You call it a displeasure?!

Okay okay, I need to calm myself down. But this book ranks in the top five that have fundamentally changed me as a person/writer (I still can't believe 'I' didn't start this topic). The portrait is stunningly realistic and let it be known, so dark is the reality- It's pathetically sad. Before the interrogation starts, no- I haven't witnessed it all. I just happen to know some equally sad stories, experiences from reliable sources (my native place is a not so affluent area) so its not so incredible.

But what makes the book deadly is the writing style- all the dark humor and the precise emotions in various situations. Adiga has got a flair of relating to the half baked. And then of course, there are words of wisdom pure bumpkin style.

The novel is a remarkable achievement considering its a debut. A genius like Adiga is a rarity.

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3 Re: The White Tiger on Wed Jun 23, 2010 5:49 pm

Kazuki

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Ay ay ay! I personally didn't think it was very realistic at all. My native place is a pretty unaffluent (if that's a word) place as well, my mom grew up in that village and hell nobodys grandma is that terrible.

My own relatives are struggling very hard to survive life but no matter what people don't go around killing employers and stealing their money from them even though in India nobody ever gets caught.

I have personally never seen anyone ask their driver to massage their feet (maybe in Delhi it's a popular thing) and if you don't like your job...quit! I mean, it is in Delhi! drivers are being fired and re-hired by the minute.

The writing style...I don't want to get started on that. This was his first book so you shouldn't expect too much from the writing but it was very immature. Reading the book gave me a headache and a bad mood. I thought the book was a fake rant from a guy who lived most of his life outside of India and was the son of some rich bigshot. Honestly, A book like this should come from experience. Like there has to be something true supporting it.

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