The White Tiger: A Novel

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The White Tiger: A Novel

by Aravind Adiga

Free Press | October 14, 2008 | Trade Paperback |

3.875 out of 5 rating. 16 Reviews
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A stunning literary debut critics have likened to Richard Wright's Native Son, The White Tiger follows a darkly comic Bangalore driver through the poverty and corruption of modern India's caste society. "This is the authentic voice of the Third World, like you''ve never heard it before" (John Burdett, Bangkok 8).

The white tiger of this novel is Balram Halwai, a poor Indian villager whose great ambition leads him to the zenith of Indian business culture, the world of the Bangalore entrepreneur. On the occasion of the president of China's impending trip to Bangalore, Balram writes a letter to him describing his transformation and his experience as driver and servant to a wealthy Indian family, which he thinks exemplifies the contradictions and complications of Indian society.

Recalling The Death of Vishnu and Bangkok 8 in ambition, scope, The White Tiger is narrative genius with a mischief and personality all its own. Amoral, irreverent, deeply endearing, and utterly contemporary, this novel is an international publishing sensation-and a startling, provocative debut.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 304 Pages, 5.12 × 8.27 × 0.79 in

Published: October 14, 2008

Publisher: Free Press

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1416562605

ISBN - 13: 9781416562603

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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– More About This Product –

The White Tiger: A Novel

The White Tiger: A Novel

by Aravind Adiga

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 304 Pages, 5.12 × 8.27 × 0.79 in

Published: October 14, 2008

Publisher: Free Press

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1416562605

ISBN - 13: 9781416562603

Read from the Book

The First Night For the Desk of: His Excellency Wen Jiabao The Premier''s Office Beijing Capital of the Freedom-loving Nation of China From the Desk of: "The White Tiger" A Thinking Man And an Entrepreneur Living in the world''s center of Technology and Outsourcing Electronics City Phase 1 (just off Hosur Main Road) Bangalore, India Mr. Premier, Sir. Neither you nor I speak English, but there are some things that can be said only in English. My ex-employer the late Mr. Ashok''s ex-wife, Pinky Madam, taught me one of these things; and at 11:32 p.m. today, which was about ten minutes ago, when the lady on All India Radio announced, "Premier Jiabao is coming to Bangalore next week," I said that thing at once. In fact, each time when great men like you visit our country I say it. Not that I have anything against great men. In my way, sir, I consider myself one of your kind. But whenever I see our prime minister and his distinguished sidekicks drive to the airport in black cars and get out and do namastes before you in front of a TV camera and tell you about how moral and saintly India is, I have to say that thing in English. Now, you are visiting us this week, Your Excellency, aren''t you? All India Radio is usually reliable in these matters. That was a joke, sir. Ha! That''s why I want to ask you directly if you really are coming to Bangalore. Because if you are, I have something important to tell you. See, the lady on the radio said, "Mr. Jiabao is on a mission: he wants to kno
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From the Publisher

A stunning literary debut critics have likened to Richard Wright's Native Son, The White Tiger follows a darkly comic Bangalore driver through the poverty and corruption of modern India's caste society. "This is the authentic voice of the Third World, like you''ve never heard it before" (John Burdett, Bangkok 8).

The white tiger of this novel is Balram Halwai, a poor Indian villager whose great ambition leads him to the zenith of Indian business culture, the world of the Bangalore entrepreneur. On the occasion of the president of China's impending trip to Bangalore, Balram writes a letter to him describing his transformation and his experience as driver and servant to a wealthy Indian family, which he thinks exemplifies the contradictions and complications of Indian society.

Recalling The Death of Vishnu and Bangkok 8 in ambition, scope, The White Tiger is narrative genius with a mischief and personality all its own. Amoral, irreverent, deeply endearing, and utterly contemporary, this novel is an international publishing sensation-and a startling, provocative debut.

Editorial Reviews

"Adiga''s training as a journalist lends the immediacy of breaking news to his writing, but it is his richly detailed storytelling that will captivate his audience...The White Tiger echoes masterpieces of resistance and oppression (both The Jungle and Native Son come to mind) [and] contains passages of startling beauty...A book that carefully balances fable and pure observation." - Lee Thomas, San Francisco Chronicle

Bookclub Guide

1. The author chose to tell the story from the provocative point of view of an exceedingly charming, egotistical admitted murderer. Do Balram''s ambition and charisma make his vision clearer? More vivid? Did he win you over?

2. Why does Balram choose to address the Premier? What motivates him to tell his story? What similarities does he see between himself and the Premier?

3. Because of his lack of education, Ashok calls Balram "half-baked." What does he mean by this? How does Balram go about educating himself? What does he learn?

4. Balram variously describes himself as "a man of action and change," "a thinking man," "an entrepreneur," "a man who sees tomorrow," and a "murderer." Is any one of these labels the most fitting, or is he too complex for only one? How would you describe him?

5. Balram blames the culture of servitude in India for the stark contrasts between the Light and the Darkness and the antiquated mind set that slows change. Discuss his rooster coop analogy and the role of religion, the political system, and family life in perpetuating this culture. What do you make of the couplet Balram repeats to himself: "I was looking for the key for years / but the door was always open"?

6. Discuss Balram''s opinion of his master and how it and their relationship evolve. Balram says "where my genuine concern for him ended and where my self-interest began, I could not tell" (160). Where do you think his self-interest begins?

7. Compare Ashok and his family''s actions after Pinky Madam hits a child to Balram''s response when his driver does. Were you surprised at the actions of either? How does Ashok and his family''s morality compare to Balram''s in respect to the accidents, and to other circumstances?

8. Discuss Balram''s reasons for the murder: fulfilling his father''s wish that his son "live like a man," taking back what Ashok had stolen from him, and breaking out of the rooster coop, among them. Which ring true to you and which do not? Did you feel Balram was justified in killing Ashok? Discuss the paradox inherent in the fact that in order to live fully as a man, Balram took a man''s life.

9. Balram''s thoughts of his family initially hold him back from killing Ashok. What changes his mind? Why do you think he goes back to retrieve Dharam at the end of the novel? Does his decision absolve him in any way?

10. The novel offers a window into the rapidly changing economic situation in India. What do we learn about entrepreneurship and Balram''s definition of it?

11. The novel reveals an India that is as unforgiving as it is promising. Do you think of the novel, ultimately, as a cautionary tale or a hopeful one?

Further activities

The novel offers a perspective on modern India and how its economy is changing. Compare the fictional depiction in the book to nonfiction accounts; for further reading try In Spite of the Gods, Planet India, or The Elephant and the Dragon.

If you or your group has read other popular novels related to India, such as The Namesake, The Inheritance of Loss, or Brick Lane, discuss the characters and the similarities or differences you see in how the country is presented.

Have an Indian feast to accompany your book group discussion. Order from a local restaurant or try your hand at the recipes at www.indianfoodforever.com.

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