The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Pages – 321 pages
Genre – Fiction
First, let me tell you how I got this book… Earlier this year, while the weather was still dreadfully cold and all anyone wanted was to be in a warm and comfortable place, I was watching TV with Dark Chocolate when he suddenly remembered he wanted to tell me something. On his way to the flat back from work that evening, he had passed a pile of books left at the foot of the stairs with a note requesting that anyone interested in them should take them as they would be given to charity the next day if they weren’t. At first, he was not sure if it was better to tell me about the books or keep his mouth shut as our flat was already filled with books – those I had read and those I was looking forward to reading. But somehow he let it slip and my reaction made him realise he should have stuck with the latter and kept the knowledge of the book pile to himself.
But it was too late as I was up on my feet, eyes wide with excitement, dashing out of the flat to check out the books. To be honest, I didn’t expect to find much out there but boy was I pleasantly surprised. On seeing the books, I felt like I had entered a book lover’s heaven. There were almost a hundred books there, none of which I had read (except for one of them, Chiamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun) and I quickly began to go through them all. I flipped through every single novel in that pile looking for one that will interest me. In my excitement I left the flat with just my pyjamas, although thick, were not thick enough to sufficiently shield me from the cold breeze that seeped in through the door not far from me. I felt my hands getting numb from being exposed to the cold but I didn’t care and was determined to look at all the books there.
In the end, I left with close to 30 books and a cute book stand :). You should have seen the shock on Dark Chocolate’s face when I entered the flat with a book stand filled with books and a small pile of books on the floor beside it. He instantly regretted letting me know about the books but I am thankful he did.
The White Tiger is one of the books I acquired that night. At the time, I was reading Anne of Green Gables but quickly dropped it to read one of my newly acquired books. Sadly, I have not picked up Anne since then.
I am not sure what drew me to the book, was it the book description, book cover or the fact that it was set in India? At first, I wanted to test the waters by reading the first page but went for a swim instead. Within a few minutes I had finished the first chapter and knew right away that I had to finish the book.
The book is Balram Halwai’s narration of his life, first how as a child he lived in poverty in The Darkness, one of the slums in India, how he went on to kill his master, steal his money and become an entrepreneur. The whole story was narrated as a letter (a very long one i might add) that Balram writes to the Chinese Premier who would be visiting India for the first time. The book reminds me very much of Tunde Cole’s Everyday is for the Thief as it’s exposes the reality of everyday life as a slum boy in India, the corruption that is found at almost every level of the society and the struggle that people of the lower class have to go through to become one of the big boys.
There have been comments from people who have lived in Inida that the author skewed a few details out of proportion and having experienced the same with Tunde Cole’s book, this is not hard to believe. Not being Indian myself or visited the country before, I cannot say how much of what I read was true or if it was just exaggerated to make the story more interesting.
Nevertheless, the book is engrossing, eye-opening and entertaining, as i found myself laughing out loud occasionally. I would easily recommend this to anyone who wants a book that is serious, educating and funny at the same time. Definitely worth reading
Thanks for reading.