Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Book Review: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

Meet sociopath Balram Halwai; former servant to his Master in India, now a murderer and successful entrepreneur. The White Tiger is his fictional rags to riches story told with grit and dark humor. It rips open India's caste system and corruption. 

Forget any romantic ideal you have of India. Author Aravind Adiga digs deep beneath the surface to expose unrest between the classes.

You see, Balram had enough of living like a caged animal for his Master's enjoyment. He's a man who watched and observed people like a tiger. When the time came to attack, he did just that and killed his Master. No spoiler alert because Balram admits to the crime early in the book.

The White Tiger took me out of my comfort zone. It made me think about experiences I've had when traveling. I'm questioning how much of a country I really saw. And throughout the story, I found myself cheering for Balram even though murder is never the way to get ahead (or is it sometimes justified?). I finished the book two weeks ago and can't get it out of my mind.

If I were an Indian Master, I think I'd watch my back (or neck) after reading this novel.

Rob's Rating: 5/5

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. Copyright 2008. Free Press. Winner of the 2008 Man Booker Prize. ISBN 978141656

FTC Note: Library Copy


  1. Great review Rob. I liked this book but did not love it. The reviews do seem mixed, but so happy to hear that it worked for you.

  2. I've been wanting to read this one for awhile...but I don't think I realized that the main character is a sociopath. I still want to read it, though. :-D

  3. Hi Diane and Jill,

    Thanks for taking time to comment.
    The White Tiger was chosen for our February book discussion at my library and got mixed reviews. At first I didn't like the book at all and kept reading the first chapter over and over trying to get into it. I'm glad I stayed with the book because it turned into a powerful experience for me. I still want to visit India after reading The White Tiger.

    Take care and hope you're both having a good week.


  4. I've been undecided about reading this.... having it selected by my bookclub would definitely push me into it. I think it's good to be taken out of our comfort zones from time to time.

  5. I read Adiga's book of short stories, Between the Assassinations, and really enjoyed it. I definitely want to read this one, too, though it sounds very dark!

  6. I have the White Tiger sitting on my shelf unread. I keep purchasing more books than I can read.

    Glad to see you enjoyed this book and found it to be unforgettable.

  7. Wow, interesting - I had no idea the book was about a murderer! Now I'm actually interested to read it. :)

  8. I thought this book was a show-stopper. Great review. It was just brutal and heartbreaking and stunning.

  9. I have passed over this book several times without picking it up. Your review has convinced me I need to read it - uncomfortable or not!

  10. April--I'm running out of shelf space too. When I walk into my home library I wonder how I'll ever read them all.

    Marie--I love your comments about The White Tiger.

    JoAnn--It's been interesting going to a book discussion. We meet every month and our next book is going to be completely different from White Tiger. The group chose Steve Martin's "Born Standing Up."

    Leley--It was one of your posts that inspired me to join a book group.

    Aarti--Thanks for mentioning Aravind's short stories. I'll have a look.

    Mystica--How are things in Sri Lanka? I'm glad my review has inspired you to read The White Tiger. Also, have you received the book you won on my site? If not, it should be there any day.

    Aloha from Rob


Aloha! Thanks for taking time to talk story. Your comment will be posted soon.

Ho'ola'i na manu i ke aheahe

"The birds poise quietly in the gentle breeze."
Said of those who are at peace with the world, undisturbed and contented.