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The White Tiger: A Novel | [Aravind Adiga]

The White Tiger: A Novel

Balram Halwai is a complicated man. Servant. Philosopher. Entrepreneur. Murderer. 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. 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.

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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (2109 )
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3.9 (931 )
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Performance
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  •  
    connie Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada 06-19-09
    connie Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada 06-19-09

    Narrative makes the world go round.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "download the other version"

    Lee is a great narrator but not for this book. In fact, he got in the way--I kept thinking, "That's John Lee trying to speak Indian-English..."

    Even so, this is a very satisfying, entertaining and informative listen about the shadow side of India's economic growth, with a catchy set up: A long memo from a dubious Indian entrepreneur who clawed his way from village life, written to the Premier of China (like the Chinese premier, the White Tiger says if he was building a country, he'd put in the infrastructure first, then the democracy)

    This is very unlike Rohinton Mistry's quiet excellent novels set in India or Arundhati Roy's God of Small Things. If Q+A/Slumdog Millionaire was like an Indian Dickens, then White Tiger is like Kurt Vonnegut spinning a tragicomedy of the cumulative effects of caste and class meeting globalization and westernization in the "rooster coop" pecking order of India. An interesting study of how an author can make an unlikable character sympathetic.

    This is a novel that raises moral questions that will ring in your mind long after you've finished listening.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 06-08-13
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 06-08-13 Member Since 2009

    Business Physicist and Astronomer

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Different, Engrossing"

    There are so many books today following the same themes of vampires, sex and/or murder.
    It is a great day when you discover something different, deeper and better.

    Here's that book. A very interesting book indeed. Get some insight into the culture of India and enjoy a very engrossing story.

    This is a 5 star book. Highly recommend! Perfectly presented too.

    Chris Reich, TeachU

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Houston, TX, United States 11-05-11
    David Houston, TX, United States 11-05-11 Member Since 2008

    Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving or riding my bike.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Unanticipated delight"

    I bought this book some time ago, and if I ever knew that it was a Booker Prize winner, by the time I got around to listening to it I had forgotten. As a result, I approached it without particularly high expectations. What a wonderful surprise. Brilliant and brilliantly read. Adiga writes in that deceptive, low key which, when used artfully, pulls us along effortlessly but inexorably toward unanticipated delight. He fascinates with entirely original detail, constructing an engrossing world from which I had no desire to depart. Every note rings true, and all of it is superbly well served by John Lee's extraordinary vocal characterization. This one is really something special.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    barbara beise Syracuse, NY, US 04-11-10
    barbara beise Syracuse, NY, US 04-11-10 Member Since 2001
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    "Outsourcing from an Indian POV"

    The White Tiger provides the 'backstory', told in an earthy, amusing, authentic voice, of the 'Flat World' phenomenon. Those of us in the US who work day in and out with Indian colleagues, mainly via phone and email, have only the barest perception of the personal, cultural origins of our coworkers.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gohar Issaquah, WA 07-07-09
    Gohar Issaquah, WA 07-07-09 Member Since 2015

    I Like scifi-fantasy,non-fiction, historical fiction genres. Liked Stormlight, Mistborn,GoT. Last read: Well of Ascension

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    "Too much hype for nothing...."

    This book definitely fell too short for my expectations. Being an Indian, I definitely didn't like the accent and the mis-pronounced words but I knew that before buying the book. The caste system and the slave master relation is almost precise but sometimes exaggerated. I didn't like the fact that there is very little remorse shown from the protagonist's perspective for the heinous crime that he commits. Other than that, an ordinary story with a funny accent. Thank god it was short.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Juan Pompano Beach, FL, USA 03-02-09
    Juan Pompano Beach, FL, USA 03-02-09
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    "A thououghly entertaining experience."

    I'm not a great judge of the Indian language accent or anything else. John Lee is amazing. I think he's the best narrator I've listened to and I've listened to a lot of them.

    His Indian accent added enormously to the enjoyment of this audio book. Whether or not he mispronounced some words is beyond me and I don't much care. This wasn't a textbook. It was entertainment.

    Listen to this book.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elaine Springfield, NJ, USA 07-25-09
    Elaine Springfield, NJ, USA 07-25-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great book, great narrator."

    I have listened to The White Tiger twice in its entirety and several times partially and have several passages memorized. I am sure I will listen to it again and again. It is a compelling, horrific, and completely entertaining story, told with an ironic tone by a captivating first-person narrator. It is read by the enormously talented John Lee, who has become my favorite narrator (listen to him also reading "Snow" and parts of "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society").

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah Kanata, Ontario, Canada 11-19-08
    Sarah Kanata, Ontario, Canada 11-19-08 Member Since 2013
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    "Ignoring the Booker....an excellent tale"

    I have high expectations for the Booker winners. When I read one I expect to be completely blown away by lyrical writing, great characters, gripping plot. Don't get me wrong, White Tiger is excellent. But I found myself comparing it to the Booker list and it came up short. It's a great story, a fun story, an excellent insight into India. Read it. Laugh and enjoy. But if you're looking for Booker winners specifically, you may want to turn to something else.

    12 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    W.Denis Savannah, GA, United States 06-06-08
    W.Denis Savannah, GA, United States 06-06-08
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    "Great"

    Anything John Lee Reads about India is going to be special. The books are chosen well and as in this one he puts you in it and allows you to feel the content.

    15 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saman Houston, TX, United States 02-23-14
    Saman Houston, TX, United States 02-23-14 Member Since 2010

    sam_perera

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    "Unusual tale of rags to riches."

    Continuing my education of books that won the Man Booker price, I picked up White Tiger which won the coveted award in 2008. The synopsis of the book and its setting in bustling Bangalore which I visited recently hooked me into this tale. I really wanted to like this book but the central character, Balram Halwai, never seemed likeable or plausible. He is as usual, in these types of Indian novels, the downtrodden poor village boy with no hope. Yet, he is a masterful schemer, learning from his social status and surroundings with a streak of evil to succeed in the long run. Perhaps that is the reason I did not enjoy the story telling. Or perhaps it was the narrator. Either way, I wanted more out of this book than I received.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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