Aravind Adiga’s debut novel, winner of the 2008 Man Booker Prize, is an angry yet absorbing tale of ambition in twenty-first century India.
The White Tiger follows protagonist Balram Halwai from his village in rural India, known in the novel as “The Darkness,” to the city. Born a member of a caste of sweet makers, Balram finds a position as a personal servant in the rapidly developing India of call centers, air conditioned high rises and shopping malls. The reader follows Balram as he recounts the indignities, sacrifices, schemes and crimes he endures – and perpetrates – along his relatively modest rise. Balram is an engaging and often hilarious narrator, and his tales of shifting hierarchies and tumultuous power dynamics make for page turning reading. For all of its humor, however, The White Tiger is at its heart a serious look at injustice and poverty. Adiga suggests that while the rapid ascent of India in the global economy of the twenty-first century has its beneficiaries, the cost to the soul of the nation will be very steep indeed.
-Trish Nugent, Special Collections Librarian/Archivist