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The White Tiger

A Novel
Narrated by: John Lee
Length: 8 hrs and 5 mins
4 out of 5 stars (2,906 ratings)
Regular price: $24.49
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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

Critic Reviews

"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

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great, informative tale

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.

31 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Entertaining, thought-provoking, darkly funny

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.

73 of 75 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Cariola
  • Chambersburg, PA USA
  • 01-11-09

Definitely deserved the Booker Prize

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.

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A Worthy Award Winner

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.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful Indian Booker Prize Winner

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.

26 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent writing and narration!

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!!!

24 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • connie
  • Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 06-19-09

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.

23 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • Woburn , MA, USA
  • 05-22-08


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.

31 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kenneth
  • Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • 03-20-09

Eye-opening introduction to the new India

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.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Elisabeth
  • Durham, NC, United States
  • 05-27-09

Well written and good story

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.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful