Monday, June 8, 2009

Book Review : The White Tiger by Arvind Adiga

After Slumdog Millionaire, here’s another story on the life of the marginalized sections of society, Arvind Adiga’s The White Tiger. Like Slumdog which traces the life of a young kid from the slums of Mumbai, this one tracks the life of a migrant from a small town to the big city. That’s where the similarities end though; The White Tiger is much darker and intense. Unlike Slumdog which has a happy ending and is interwoven with an interesting tale of romance, this one is based on betrayal, corruption, murder and lies.

I wouldn’t say that I liked the book much, but as they say REALITY BITES, it’s truly an eye opener!! A stinging critique of all aspects of our country, including religion, written in a blunt and mocking manner that does make you smile sometimes, but at other occasions slaps you across the face. The author has to be given credit for his free flowing writing and treatment of issues that are generally considered taboo in Indian society, which we knew always existed, but were swept under the carpet.

The beginning is quite innovative and different. It is in the form of an open letter to the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao. The author seems to mock the Chinese, saying that entrepreneurs are the only thing China lacks, and offers Jiabao tips to churn out an entrepreneur in seven days.

The White tiger is a story of Balram Halwai, a villager from Laxmangarh, Bihar and narrates his life from a chaiwalla in Dhanbad to a driver in Delhi who robs and murders his employer and finally as a successful entrepreneur in Bangalore. The author seems to suggest that the only way for a villager to succeed in India is through corruption and manipulating the system. Through interesting anecdotes, he lays bare our country’s corruption, bureaucracy, inefficient police force, utter absence of law, caste system etc.

He also trashes our supposed trump card “DEMOCRACY” showing how votes are bought and people forced to vote for a particular party.

And to think that India will become a superpower after all this,


Jokes apart, I think this will really make a fabulous Hindi movie because it has all the masala for success. Though, like Vikas Swarup’s Q&A on which Slumdog Millionaire was based, the rights for The White Tiger have been bought by a Hollywood production house so it looks like we’ll have to endure foreign stars again. I often wonder why our filmmakers don’t purchase rights to books. Doesn’t any of them read, for God’s sake???


  1. Well, I liked the book very much. In fact, I might just tilt a lil' bit in favor of The White Tiger, if one asks me to choose between it and 'Q&A' (The book on which Slumdog is based)...Q&A was a bit too circumstantial...too many coincidences...had to turn back back pages, as I lost the line of the plot quite often...The White Tiger on the other hand is written in a truly innovative manner (Reminds me of 'The Relcutant Fundamentalist', a truly remarkable work by Mohsin Hamid)...the way the book proceeds as a narration to a second party...nice concept...and yes, the book is very very are quite right..has a sinister hue to it (when Balram smashes his master's head, as he bends down to fix the car)...Really man...who knows about these things...We living in cities don't really know how the people from the backward strata of soceity are being treated!

  2. Ya right, thts y i said its an eye opener for me, i never knew it was so bad for these people

  3. hey....good gonna read this one for sure.

  4. Thanks Guri, ya it's a brilliant book, a must read for urban Indians

  5. Today only i finished the book and hence consider myself eligible to comment. 1st of all ya it will make a good muvi. Indian producers buy d rights of the buks like one nite @ d call centre n turn it in2 a debacle.
    I wont say i loved the book a lot cos sumwer down the line i start comparin wid foreign authors (which is unfair)though i read indian authors more.
    Yes the book is dark. I mean i knew landlords exist but then their lifestyle and all. The corruption at its full swing, how d police just loves money,and how u can just feed politicians more n more money. The best part i liked was that the guy is writing it himself so kinda u feel more connected few times i got the feeling as if i am sitting in his brain.Planning with him,fighting wid his own thoughts.
    The story wasn't awesome. Doesn need to be cos truth is not always beautiful and awesome.

  6. Hey thanks for ur comments, aritri

  7. Hi Praseem!Great review!Will read it for sure:) Have a great week ahead!