Book Review: ‘The White Tiger’ by Aravind Adiga

Book Title: The White Tiger
Author: Aravind Adiga
Publisher: HarperCollins
Number of Pages: 328
ISBN: 978-8172237455
Date Published: Apr. 16, 2008
Price: INR 299

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga Book Cover

Book Review

The White Tiger”, written by Aravind Adiga and published in 2008, is a captivating novel that delves into the underbelly of Indian society. Winning the prestigious 40th Man Booker Prize in the same year, this thought-provoking book presents the narrative through the eyes of Balram Halwai, a destitute driver from rural India who defies his circumstances to become a triumphant entrepreneur in the bustling city. Adiga skillfully employs Balram’s story to expose the corrupt power structures that govern the country.

Narrated in the first person by Balram himself, the novel portrays a complex and contradictory protagonist. Balram possesses both intelligence and ambition, yet his actions reveal a ruthless and self-serving nature. Born into poverty and oppression, he becomes a product of his environment, driven by a fervent desire to escape his upbringing.

Set against the backdrop of a rapidly changing India, the novel reflects the stark disparity between the haves and the have-nots. As the country experiences economic growth, the divide widens further. Balram finds himself trapped in this chasm, realizing that traditional avenues to success are closed off to him. Consequently, he resorts to crime and violence in a bid to ascend the social ladder.

The White Tiger” is an impactful and disconcerting work. It exposes the darker facets of the Indian dream, shedding light on the pervasive corruption and inequality that persist despite economic progress. Simultaneously, it serves as a testament to the indomitable human spirit, showcasing the ability of one individual to surmount even the most arduous circumstances.

Adiga’s writing is sharp and infused with wit, adding depth to the narrative. The characters are meticulously developed, offering a multifaceted exploration of the human condition. Through their struggles and triumphs, the story prompts introspection and raises thought-provoking questions.

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Here are some of the things that critics have said about The White Tiger:

• “Adiga’s writing is sharp and funny, and his insights into Indian society are both insightful and disturbing.” – The New York Times

• “The White Tiger is a brilliant and disturbing novel that will stay with you long after you finish reading it.” – The Washington Post

• “Adiga has written a powerful and important novel that is sure to be read and discussed for years to come.” – The Guardian

Nevertheless, “The White Tiger” remains a remarkable and well-crafted novel. It is highly recommended for those with an interest in India or a fascination with the intricacies of the human experience. Adiga’s work invites readers to contemplate the deeper layers of society, leaving a lasting impression long after the final page is turned.

Film Adaptation

Ramin Bahrani was appointed as the director and screenwriter for the film adaptation of Netflix on April 5, 2018. On September 3, 2019, Rajkummar Rao, Priyanka Chopra, and Adarsh Gourav were chosen to star in the film. The film premiered on January 23, 2021, in specific theaters and on Netflix. In 2021, it received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.