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)
This is my first purchase from audible.com, and I can only hope future books are as insightful and entertaining as the White tiger. My husband and I could not turn it off on a recent road trip, so captivating was the story and the narration (John Lee--I think there is another version available with a different narrator).
I loved the book and the reading. First-rate all the way. While it's by no means a chair-gripper, it is nonetheless compelling in terms of its psychological portrait. I recommend the book without reservation.
If you are an indian then there is nothing new or original in this book. If you have never been to india then please do not assume this to be the representative novel. I can think of a hundred other books i would rather have read first before this one. I think this one is a mistake by the booker board...by a long shot.
The story starts out very interesting and entertaining. But the plot was weak. About half way through, it lost it's novelty, and the story was not all that exciting.
I could listen to John Lee read a menu and be entertained. This is a darkly humorous look at modern India (I have no way to judge its accuracy) and the neverending politics of wealth. I didn't really understand why it was written as a sort of "letter," but that wasn't particularly distracting.
This was a performance monologue. Picture being in a small theater in New York and someone reads an open letter of their life. Now pretend they are doing in an Indian accident who writes in a overtly simplistic matter. At its best it was an incite into the reality of the culture. At its worst it was punishment for something I did in another life.
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