In search of a new read I picked “The White Tiger” off our bookshelf in the living room. I couldn’t find the blurb to read but thought it looked interesting and so started reading, and interesting it was. Aravind Adiga won the Man Booker prize 2008 for this book, and it is no surprise.
Adiga uses the interesting narrative of a letter to tell the story of his main character in the book. The first chapter starts us reading along as “The White Tiger” writes a letter to His Excellency the Premier of China, and so we learn about the White Tiger’s life as he so wishes to tell us. We have no real idea where he is going with his letter, and no real idea who this man is and what we will be finding out about his life. What unravels is the tale of a young boy, trying to fight his way out of poverty and what society is dictating he should do with his life.
The book provides an unusual yet interesting insight into India and its culture. Through the main character, we learn of cultural rituals, they way people are brought up in India, the differences between the rich and poor. We learn of the hardship people suffer in India, of the poor living conditions and of corruption, and we learn of the differences that exist within the different parts of India itself. Through this letter Adiga succeeds in telling us the story of a nation that is on the rise, yet still has many faults. We empathise with the main character, even though part of us feels like we shouldn’t really. Adiga also manages to make us empathise with the second main character, even though he is a bad person who makes other people’s lives miserable. And yet, seen through the eyes of The White Tiger, we manage to feel sorry for this person.
Adiga tells us the story of the White Tiger in the order he sees fit, therefore sometimes leaving us in the lurch with a feeling of having been cut off half way through a very good story. But in the end, we find out everything we wanted to know and the book ends in a very satisfactory manner. No need to worry, this is not one of the books where you end up wondering what happened.
It is a truly excellent book and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a new read, anyone interested in India, anyone planning to travel there and many more.