Aravind Adiga, in his riveting debut novel, shatters the myth of a ‘shining, progressing India’ by unveiling the existing class struggles, the endemic corruption, inequality, and rampant poverty- all through the voice of a suave entrepreneur, who also happens to be a murderer.
Summary of The Book
The White Tiger is a novel of fiction written by the Indian Author Aravind Adiga and was published in the year 2008. It falls into the genre of ‘dark comedy’. The novel is titled so after the nickname of its protagonist Balram, who according to the education inspector is the smartest boy in the village. His uniqueness earns him the name ‘white tiger’, as it is a unique animal.
A stunning first-person narrative of a small town commoner, The White Tiger is no ordinary story. It is a tale of the journey of an under-educated, poor young man from the ‘darkness’ of rural India to the ‘light’ of India, which is an escalating global economy. On the surface, it is a monologue delivered by a certain Balram Halwai, who, after breaking free from the shackles of a future that offered nothing but doom, becomes a taxi driver to a certain Mr. Ashok in the ‘big city’. It is the story of a man who is made to plunge into a parallel universe of glitz, glamour, and fame, the likes of which he thought never existed. The book talks about a man who witnesses himself change and watches his ambitions soar to vaulting heights.
And then there’s cold blooded murder.
However, Adiga’s aim is not just to entertain, but also to educate, and here lies the uncensored account of an India that is seldom talked of. Class disparity in a supposedly ‘developing’ India, the servant-employer (rather ‘master’) relationship, widespread corruption, startling poverty, and religious identities are the issues addressed here by an observer who is cynical, critical, and who has seen it all.
The White Tiger, Adiga’s debut novel, won The Man Booker Prize in the year 2008, the very year it was published.
Soon as the book came out, it was immediately well received by the critics, authors and general public. John Hart, the producer of the movie The Revolutionary Road, has acquired the rights for the screen adaptation of the book, and it is all set to be made into a movie.
About Aravind Adiga
Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2008 for his debut novel The White Tiger, 33-year-old Aravind Adiga is a journalist and author by profession. He is an Australian citizen of Indian origin.
Apart from The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga has written two novels, namely, Between the Assasinations and Last Man in Tower and four short stories The Sultan’s Battery (The Guardian, 18 October 2008), Smack (The Sunday Times, 16 November 2008), Last Christmas in Bandra (The Times, 19 December 2008), and The Elephant (The New Yorker, 26 January 2009).
Adiga’s writing, to put it in a pistachio shell, is unapologetic. Combining social commentary with humour- the stuff scathing satires are made of- he never fails to tickle our funny bone with his unflinching candour and wit. Presenting a blinding, brilliant, and brave mosaic of Indian life, his writing is fast paced and dark. The author is also praised for his ability to delve the darkest recesses of human nature and present the grim side of an individual’s personality in an equally grim universe. Nothing, not even human nature, escapes Adiga’s keen observation and critique. His art of characterisation has also won considerable appreciation as he breathes life into an array of characters ranging from auto rickshaw drivers, wealthy businessmen, social workers, village simpletons, and the likes.
Aravind Adiga was born in Madras in the year 1974. He completed his elementary education at Canara High School. Later, he went on to St. Aloysius High School and graduated in the year 1990. Adiga received his graduate degree in English Literature in the year 1997 from the prestigious Columbia University of USA. Before taking up fiction writing, he embarked on a career in journalism and went on to work for Financial Times, Money, and The Wall Street Journal. After this professional venture, he took to freelance writing. He currently resides in the city of Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.