The white tiger of this novel is Balram Halwai, a poor Indian villager whose great ambition leads him to the zenith of Indian business culture, the world of the Bangalore entrepreneur. On the occasion of the president of China’s impending trip to Bangalore, Balram writes a letter to him describing his transformation and his experience as driver and servant to a wealthy Indian family, which he thinks exemplifies the contradictions and complications of Indian society.
Recalling The Death of Vishnu and Bangkok 8 in ambition, scope, The White Tiger is narrative genius with a mischief and personality all its own. Amoral, irreverent, deeply endearing, and utterly contemporary, this novel is an international publishing sensation—and a startling, provocative debut.
Topics: India, Epistolary Novels, Debut, Dark, Realistic, Murder, Poverty, Corruption, Servants, Politics, Ambition, Inequality, Wealth, Success, Entrepreneurship, Social Class, Antihero, and Postcolonialism
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For the average western reader, The White Tiger is definitely an effective rebuke of the Indian caste system. But I'm not sure it is telling us anything we haven't heard already: The system is corrupt and pervasive...the rich get richer and the poor stay poor; Class is ingrained so deeply in Indian society that it will take generations for it to change. Money does nothing but corrupt, etc.
I was hoping to read something unexpected; to be treated to a side of this story that was unfamiliar. Instead, we are taken through the events by a narrator who seems suspiciously well-spoken and insightful for his position. At first I thought that the narrator was simply meant to be an unreliable narrator--one who claims to tell the truth but is actually manipulating and lying to the reader. But after reading some criticism of the novel, I started to think that maybe it wasn't a device on the writer's part, but, rather, a reflection of the fact that the author was not of the same social class as the narrator he was trying to speak for.
Now, it's not that I don't think writers should try to give voice to those who don't have the opportunity to speak for themselves. On the contrary, I think that is one of the highest goals of art. But if you're going to do it, do it well, and don't make your hero a wishy washy villain.more