British Book Awards, Author of the Year, 2009.
Man Booker Prize, Fiction, 2008.
No saris. No scents. No spices. No music. No lyricism. No illusions.
This is India now.
Balram Halwai is a complicated man. Servant. Philosopher. Entrepreneur. Murderer. Over the course of seven nights, by the scattered light of a preposterous chandelier, Balram tells us the terrible and transfixing story of how he came to be a success in life - having nothing but his own wits to help him along. Born in a village in the dark heart of India, Balram gets a break when he is hired as a driver for a wealthy man, two Pomeranians (Puddles and Cuddles), and the rich man's (very unlucky) son.
Through Balram's eyes, we see India as we've never seen it before: the cockroaches and the call centers, the prostitutes and the worshippers, the water buffalo and, trapped in so many kinds of cages that escape is (almost) impossible, the white tiger.
With a charisma as undeniable as it is unexpected, Balram teaches us that religion doesn't create morality and money doesn't solve every problem - but decency can still be found in a corrupt world, and you can get what you want out of life if you eavesdrop on the right conversations.
©2008 Aravind Adiga; (P)2008 Tantor
"Balram's evolution from likable village boy to cold-blooded killer is fascinating and believable." (Library Journal)
"A brutal view of India's class struggles is cunningly presented in Adiga's debut....It's the perfect antidote to lyrical India." (Publishers Weekly)
I highly recommend this audio book. I could have listened to all 8 hours in one sitting but wanted to savor it and so spread it out over a week. The story never dragged. The performance by the reader is first-rate, I could almost picture the characters through their voices. The audio book format works particularly well for this book because the story is structured as a narrated letter. I will be recommending this book for my book group because there will be a lot talk about. It may not be for everyone. It deals with themes of poverty, class, corruption, oppression and murder. However, for me, The White Tiger is one of the best, if not the best, audio book I have listened to.
Excellent story and narration. Gripping story of the life of the other side of India. Keeps your attention and reveals a great tale of the interaction between rich and poor and the failures of the government. If you liked the
"Kite Runner" you'll love this book as well.
The White Tiger is in the form of a first-person narrative written in a letter to the Chinese premier. The narrator (known as The White Tiger) relates how he rose from being a poor, lower caste Indian to the driver for a wealthy family, from a wanted murderer to a Bangalore entrepreneur. Full of insights into life in modern-day India, his story is sad, funny, witty, shocking--you name it. All told in a fascinating voice. John Lee was an extraordinary reader.
63 y/o psychologist with two sons, living in SF Bay Area. I absolutely love all the feedback I've been getting for my reviews. It's very gratifying. Thanks to all of you.
Call me a Westerner; I don't mind. I like a book that has interesting characters and an interesting plot. I know that this author has won awards for this book, and I know that the Man Booker Prize is highly esteemed. However, I think it is a British/Continental award primarily, and the differences between those audiences and Western audiences is great. The book wanders in a completely directionless way through the life of the main character, who we are assured becomes an "entrepreneur" in Bangalore. However, the way in which he does this is inexplicable as far as I am concerned. Again, this may be part of a large East/West dichotomy of which I am ignorant. I trust that most Audible readers are Westerners who would like books they read to be accessible rather than plotless and confusing. One thing I can say that is clearly positive: John Lee's voice is by itself one of the most entertaining things I have ever listened to. If he were telling a story than made more sense, I would find a great deal more enjoyment in the endeavor of listening. The poverty of Indians is described in revolting detail. The trials that these people have to go through just to find a way to make a living for themselves and their families: these are horrendous journeys which would bring most of us Westerners to our knees. However, these struggles do not a novel make. At numerous points this book feels much more like reporting than the work of a fiction writer. All right all ready, I am convinced of the horrifying, degrading poverty above which the lowest caste Indians can barely rise. I understand that the waters of the Ganges River are so disgusting and polluted that you dare not go anywhere near the river lest you become ill with an indescribably vicious wasting disease. I know that the ravenous corruption that runs through the government/bureaucracy that is the structure of the country is impenetrable: I really don't need to hear that much more about it. On the whole, however, I would vastly recommend Shantaram over this book. I found it immediately interesting, full of characters that grabbed me and plots that took me happily careening from one state of India to the next. My interest in Shantaram almost never failed, and that is saying a good deal, as I usually have trouble approaching four-volume tomes. Take my advice here, though. As a average American, I found Shantaram to be wildly entertaining and informative when compared to White Tiger. I cannot recommend White Tiger to anyone but the most sophisticated student of the subcontinent, a person who delights in being entertained by something which I find to be rather less than a novel, and more like an expansive, reportorial description of the daily life of the lower castes in India.
NV, not NY
There's a lot of hopelessness and despair to wade through, but it makes it all the more remarkable what the main character is willing to do to make it. I may never get the chance to go to India, but after reading this book it feels like I've been there. Not in a travel guide way, but by way of an amazing and absorbing story.
I loved this audiobook. The reader has a wonderful Indian accent (although he's an actor, not Indian) and the book is funnier and more human in the audio form than on the page. I have the book, too, but I prefer the audiobook version. It deserved the Booker. A wonderful portrait of the gritty underside of Indian society and corruption. I had wanted to visit Indian, but have decided against it. The book is amazingly honest--unlike The Kite Runner, say, which seemed sentimental to me. This is one of the best novels of the past twenty-five years.
Part Dostoevsky, part Frantz Fanon, part Baudelaire, all original. The writing is just great: spare but incredibly evocative. And it's beautifully performed as well.
Since it won the Booker prize, you can pretty much expect that the writing is stellar. The topic is current, real, and TOTALLY believable. With the recent plethora of superb Indian writers, this is one not to be missed. For Audible listeners though, let's talk about narration. John Lee is becoming, for me, enough of a reason to listen to a book. - ANY book. His Indian accent is "spot on" and his reading sublime. If you enjoyed the narration of Pillars of the Earth and World Without End you will be even more impressed when you hear this. I guarantee it!! In only eight hours, you get a listen totally worth your time and money. I can't recommend this book and the narration highly enough. It's a MUST!!!
The rapid economic growth of India has been much discussed in business news. This novel takes an unsparing look at how that bustling economy was created on the backs of the poor who dwell in a deeply traditional society. Adinga's novel begins by mentioning the two Indias: the India of light which features tall buildings and wealthy landlords; and "the Darkness", the India of deeply traditional villages from which the poor can only dream of escaping. Balram, the narrator of this story, comes from the Darkness, but finds a way into the other India, and finally commits a desperate act in order to truly emancipate himself from the Darkness. The deed itself is terrible; the consequences for his family are even more terrible; and yet the reader remains sympathetic to Balram, in view of the crushing political and judicial corruption and the overwhelming odds arrayed against him. A powerful and disturbing work.
Really enjoyed this book and learned a lot. A good complement to Slumdog Millionaire. I believe this won the Booker prize this year. Good story line and well written. Easy to follow if you like to listen while driving.
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