The White Tiger: A Novel

Kobo eBook available

read instantly on your Kobo or tablet.

buy the ebook now

The White Tiger: A Novel

by Aravind Adiga

Free Press | October 14, 2008 | Trade Paperback

The White Tiger: A Novel is rated 3.6154 out of 5 by 13.
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, 8.44 × 5.5 × 0.9 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

save 27%

  • In stock online

$12.92  ea

Online Price

$17.00 List Price

eGift this item

Give this item in the form of an eGift Card.

+ what is this?

This item is eligible for FREE SHIPPING on orders over $25.
See details

Easy, FREE returns. See details

Item can only be shipped in Canada

Downloads instantly to your kobo or other ereading device. See details

All available formats:

Check store inventory (prices may vary)

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from A good read! An interesting way to see the mind set of a driver in India, what he thinks, what he goes through because of his caste and family. Quite a twist of events that happens in the novel. Overall it was a good story!
Date published: 2012-03-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Okay... I didn't really like it. I thought it was going to follow his rise to power, or atleast to fortune, but the entire book was centred around one event in his life (albeit a big one) and, except for the critical moment, not a whole lot happened. But hey, it won the Man Booker Prize and what do I know, right.
Date published: 2011-04-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from unremarkable Not my usual pick ... i had nothing else to read. it was good though - a little morbid, but real-world morbid ... I guess i like my morbid a little more in the fantasy/horror genre. It had a little touch of dark humor, which i also liked - but all-in-all an unremarkable read (for my taste).
Date published: 2011-03-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Good Read! A great novel written by Adiga. Through the main character, The White Tiger is able to give great insight into the "hidden" ways of India, and its culture, as well as human nature. The style of the book made it a fun and easy read. I found myself laughing a lot more than I imagined. It provides a great commentary on teh rich vs. the poor and inspirations/desires of those in poverty.
Date published: 2010-02-28
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Rushed Ending The book slowly heads uphill gaining your trust that there are shocking surprises to come in his journey and then it leaves you dissapointed. The commentary about Indian life was hilarious though. Its almost like the commentary is of someone from the outside but yet has the delivery of someone ignorant, on the inside.
Date published: 2010-02-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting Social Critique - Unlikable Narrator I think that every entrepreneur is interested in learning about what is going on in India right now. I picked up this book to learn more about the area, and hear about what the business environment is like. It ended up to be a fascinating social critique of India and its class system. To a larger extent, it was a meditation on the battle between the rich and the poor in every country. The story was gripping, and it talked a lot about the social environment in India (who is also known by many other names). The main character, Munna, is a scoundrel, who is trying to make his way in the world. What I didn't like about the book was that he was TOO much of a scoundrel to the point of seeming cartoonish. I felt that I did not look forward to reading the book because he was such a bad guy. I realize that was likely by design, but I found it went overboard. Although they did offer some explanation, I felt that at the end of the book, I did not feel resolved about what he did.
Date published: 2010-01-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from winner of Man Booker Prize and Galaxy Winner The White Tiger Escapes His Cage The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (Book Review) The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga was published in 2008 by Atlantic Books. This debut novel has won many literary awards Man Booker Prize and Galaxy Author of The Year. It is an evocative and unflattering account of modern India: its injustices and corruption. It is amoral tale written in a crudely contemporary style of writing. It is the voice of the oppressed poor. The divide between the rich and poor are spelled out clearly and in an irreverent and satirical way. It is a tale of two Indias: the rich and the poor two totally different worlds. One in slums with no education, electricity where the poor live in basements. The poor are exploited, abused and need to bribe police and politicians. Then they are the rich the fat bellies who are masters who exploit the poor. The main plot is how Balram Halwai rose from the darkness (rags) to riches and became an entrepreneur by murder. He kills his boss and stole millions of rupees and escaped to Bangalore .We learn this from his seven letters he wrote to the Premier of China spelling out the true facts of his corrupt India. Despite his vile actions he is portrayed as a clever and likable character with flaws forced upon him by the corrupt state he lives in. He has his own code of morality. He is merely working the system. I highly recommend this novel. Reviewed by Annette Dunlea author of Always and Forever and The Honey Trap.
Date published: 2009-06-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The Bangaloran Dream Aravind Adiga claims Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man as the forebear of his Booker Prize Winning novel The White Tiger. I wish I could speak to that relationship (I really must get around to reading Ellison), but there was another relationship I found that was important to me: Balram Halwai (aka "The White Tiger," aka "Munna," aka "Country-Mouse," aka Ashok Sharma) and Dostoevsky's Raskolnikov. Balram is a sort of anti-Raskolnikov. Their story is much the same but there is one key difference: Balram doesn't let "foolish" guilt overwhelm him. The fiery Indian man has a strength of spirit that the paranoid Russian lacks, and it makes him likable in spite of his actions. But then, Raskolnikov's weakness always made me cringe. His act of murder was nasty, yes, but it wasn't without justification, and once he committed the murder I wanted him to live up to the ideals he used to justify his act. He failed himself and paid the price, and he disappointed me in the bargain. Balram doesn't fall prey to the same weakness (although it is interesting to note that the novel is epistolary, unfolding in a series of letters over seven nights, so perhaps there is an underlying weakness that still catches him out beyond the confines of the novel), and he uses the murder and the money he steals to better his life and finally feel like "a man" in a world where caste enslaves more than half of its starving population. If Raskolnikov's crimes were somewhat justified, Balram's are much more so, but they also have greater consequences. Balram's crimes bleed into areas that Raskolnikov's don't. Balram's attack with the jagged neck of a Johnny Walker Black bottle doesn't just kill his "master," it effectively kills his entire family. The wonder of Adiga's book, however, is that it leaves us, or at least it left me, entirely okay with Balram's actions. The man did what he had to do. He did what the rich do everyday. And he became one of them. He rose up. He made it. And that's the American Dream isn't it? The American dream in Bangalor. Praise be to free enterprise.
Date published: 2009-04-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not Only About India Adiga's book may be set in India but I think its message and story-line reflect a 'universal' truth about the difference between rich and poor and the role fulfilled by each. It also takes a good shot at the difference between government-speak and the "Truth" as seen by citizens. While officially banned, the Indians I met while visiting, openly discussed the caste and dowry systems on their daily lives and their long term prospects. India has not abandoned its rigid caste system and perhaps the rest of us live with one that's not so formal.............. I think the message of this book is really applicable while we're in the midst of a world-wide economic mess created by wealthy people so they could acquire more--and, as always, the poorer classes pay the price. I enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek, wry humour used to discuss a not-so-funny situation and recommend the book highly.
Date published: 2009-04-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Flawless The White Tiger is one of the most entertaining, profound, and important books I have ever read. It's the antithesis of every ooey-gooey, morally conscious work of literature out there; an homage to a country torn between tradition and modernity. Unforgettable.
Date published: 2009-03-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read! I absolutely loved this book written by Time magazine's Asian correspondent, Aravind Adiga. You will find yourself immersed in 'modern India', a place where there are two castes - "Men with Big Bellies, and Men with Small Bellies." And no matter how deceitful and murderous he is, you couldn't help but be captivated by the main character, Balram Hagwai aka the White Tiger. He is self-deprecating, half-baked, street smart and very cunning. Through his seven letters to the Prime Minister of China, you will discover how he escaped the "rooster coop" and left servitude as a driver/servant to ultimately become a rich entrepreneur. This is a brilliantly written rags-to-riches story that's hard to put down. Overall, a very enlightening portrayal of India. Kudos to Mr. Adiga for his first novel.
Date published: 2009-02-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from a different sort of India Adiga’s debut novel was the 2008 winner of the Man Booker Prize. There’s a certain cachet that comes attached to that especially if the author is relatively unknown. Adiga was, at one time, a correspondent for Time magazine- so he may actually be known to some people, but I’d never heard of him. Truthfully, despite the accolades, I probably wouldn’t have picked up The White Tiger, but it was the choice for the book group I lead at a local book store. In a series of missives written to His Excellency Wen Jiabao, Premier of China, Balram Halwai recounts the details of his life, from his modest beginnings in the small village of Laxmangarh to his rise as a successful entrepreneur. His tale is an interesting one and paints a picture of India quite unlike any we have seen in the recent spate of books by Indian authors. Balram’s India isn’t swirling pink saris and saffron-infused food, it’s cockroaches, abject poverty and a system that stifles creativity and social advancement. Balram condemns this India - the country which failed his dying father, was not able to deliver to him a meaningful education and is so filthy dirty, unless you drive in an air conditioned car, living in Delhi will take ten years off your life. Balram grows sick of living in the muck, though, and decides he wants something more for his life than cleaning the floors in a tearoom. He learns to drive and then, through a weird twist of fate, ends up being the driver for Mr. Ashok and his wife Pinky Madam. Ashok is one of the new breed of Indians. Schooled in America, he is kind and fair to Balram but even as Balram grows fond of him, he is looking for ways to advance himself. He’s not content to be a slave forever; he aspires to be the master. The White Tiger has been universally praised by critics. Adiga has created a wonderfully complex character in Balram. It is hard not to sympathize with him even as he goes from being underdog to monster. The book is worth the read.
Date published: 2009-01-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sardonic and thoughtful...... This fine novel explores "getting ahead" where new age positive thinking is only part of the solution. I laughed and cried at the hijinks of our hero ( and I use this very, very loosely) as he schemes and dreams his way to capitalist success. For those who are enchanted by tales from the India here is another entree from that lovely buffet and it has an intellectual bite to boot. This is definitely I couldn't put it down, one night read. namaste, eh!
Date published: 2008-11-23

– More About This Product –

The White Tiger: A Novel

The White Tiger: A Novel

by Aravind Adiga

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 304 pages, 8.44 × 5.5 × 0.9 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 mi
read more read less

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.