Sunday, November 2, 2008

Arawad Adiga's "The White Tiger"--Winner of the 2008 Man Booker Prize

Arawad Adiga's "The White Tiger" is a fascinating story about the underworld of modern India. Unlike the India that is common in Bollywood films and the Western media, "The White Tiger" creates a portrait of a country that is brutal, corrupt, and cut throat. The narrator Balram separates Indians into two groups--the rich and the rest--and describes how he realizes its worth sacrificing everything to escape poverty and become one of the wealthy. 

The novel is written as a series of seven long letters from Balram to the Premier of China. This unconventional style took a little getting used to, but after I did the novel was very gripping. Agida's style is sharp--he often uses the names of his characters or objects to ridicule them--but you also can really understand Balram's frustrations. 

I would recommend this book to someone who wants to get a different perspective on modern India--one that isn't exclusively focused on shiny new skyscrapers and outsourcing. The hunger of the characters in this novel is alarming--you can see why India has quickly become a challenger on the global stage.

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