Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2008, The White Tiger tells the sorry truth about life for the vast population of India living in poverty. Through the relaxed and often humorous voice of its irreverent narrator, Balram Halwai, or ‘The White Tiger’ as he so aptly names himself, this novel traces the powerful and shocking revelations that shake one man’s very existence to the core.
From corrupt politicians and policeman, to the unrelenting nature of work for any who are even lucky enough to find it, The White Tiger looks beneath the shining buildings and growing economy seen by the rest of the world. As history has often shown, prosperity feeds off of poverty, a terrible aspect to life, but one which is certainly apparent in the brutal caste system of India.
What is deeply saddening about this novel is how such abuses of power and severe differences in wealth are simply accepted by all. The White Tiger does not ask for sympathy, he does not beg for aid, he simply speaks of his life as it is. And this is what makes this novel so powerful.
“Do we loathe our masters behind a facade of love – or do we love them behind a facade of loathing?”
In Adiga’s masterful telling, the relationship between servant and master is laid bare. Life for millions of the ’employed’ within India relies on an antiquated, truly disproportionate system of wealth, where drivers burn plastic for warmth while their masters drink and shop.
The White Tiger is a tale of sorrow, but it is also one of awakening and rebirth. From the depths of poverty, depravity and degradation, one man emerges out of the masses and realises his true worth. But for most, there is only darkness.
Length: 321 (Atlantic Books)
Overall Rating: 5 stars
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