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The White Tiger: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Aravind Adiga
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (598 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $11.99
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Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
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Book Description

A stunning literary debut critics have likened to Richard Wright’s Native Son, The White Tiger follows a darkly comic Bangalore driver through the poverty and corruption of modern India’s caste society. “This is the authentic voice of the Third World, like you've never heard it before” (John Burdett, Bangkok 8).

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.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. First-time author Adiga has created a memorable tale of one taxi driver's hellish experience in modern India. Told with close attention to detail, whether it be the vivid portrait of India he paints or the transformation of Balram Halwai into a bloodthirsty murderer, Adiga writes like a seasoned professional. John Lee delivers an absolutely stunning performance, reading with a realistic and unforced East Indian dialect. He brings the story to life, reading with passion and respect for Adiga's prose. Lee currently sits at the top of the professional narrator's ladder; an actor so gifted both in his delivery and expansive palette of vocal abilities that he makes it sound easy. A Free Press hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 14). (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

In this darkly comic début novel set in India, Balram, a chauffeur, murders his employer, justifying his crime as the act of a "social entrepreneur." In a series of letters to the Premier of China, in anticipation of the leader’s upcoming visit to Balram’s homeland, the chauffeur recounts his transformation from an honest, hardworking boy growing up in "the Darkness"—those areas of rural India where education and electricity are equally scarce, and where villagers banter about local elections "like eunuchs discussing the Kama Sutra"—to a determined killer. He places the blame for his rage squarely on the avarice of the Indian élite, among whom bribes are commonplace, and who perpetuate a system in which many are sacrificed to the whims of a few. Adiga’s message isn’t subtle or novel, but Balram’s appealingly sardonic voice and acute observations of the social order are both winning and unsettling.
Copyright ©2008Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker

Product Details

  • File Size: 718 KB
  • Print Length: 305 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (April 22, 2008)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0015DWLD0
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,678 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
425 of 451 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Caught in the rooster coop May 27, 2008
Format:Hardcover
In his debut novel, Aravind Adiga takes on some hefty issues: the unhappy division of social classes into haves and have-nots, the cultural imperialism of the First World, the powder-kegged anger that seethes among the world's dispossessed, and entrapment. But his skills as an author protect the novel from becoming one of those horrible didactic stories in which characters and plot are little more than mouthpieces and vehicle for delivering Great Truths. The White Tiger entertains and gives pause for thought. This is a good combination.

The plot centers around Balram Halwai, a laborer born and raised in a small village utterly controlled by crooked and feudally powerful landlords. The village is located in 'the Darkness,' a particularly backward region of India. Balram is eventually taken to Delhi as a driver for one of the landlord's westernized sons, Ashok. It's in Delhi that Balram comes to the realization that there's a new caste system at work in both India and the world, and it has only two groups: those who are eaten, and those who eat, prey and predators. Balram decides he wants to be an eater, someone with a big belly, and the novel tracks the way in which this ambition plays out.

A key metaphor in the novel is the rooster coop. Balram recognizes that those who are eaten are trapped inside a small and closed cage--the rooster coop--that limits their opportunities. Even worse, they begin to internalize the limitations and indignities of the coop, so that after awhile they're unable to imagine they deserve any other world than the cramped one in which they exist. Balram's dream is to break free of his coop, to shed his feathers and become what for him is a symbol of individualism, power, and freedom: a white tiger.
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187 of 198 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From The Darkness into the light October 12, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What's astonishing about "The White Tiger" isn't Adiga's depiction of the social and economic inequalities of contemporary India. Other writers--Rohinton Mistry in " A Fine Balance," Kiran Desai in "The Inheritance of Loss," among others--have written very good novels about this. What is astonishing is the economy with which he does it. Novels about societal inequities are often lengthy; think of a novel by Dickens or Stowe or Dreiser or Steinbeck, in which the accumulating weight of the details of suffering creates a powerful impression. Adiga creates two disparate worlds, Balram's tiny native village in the Darkness and the sliver of Delhi he inhabits in his life as a driver for the urbanized son of the village landlord. The first is a place of absolute hopelessness presided over by allegorical figures of corrupt wealth: the four landlords known as The Stork, The Buffalo, The Wild Boar, and The Raven. From afar (and occasionally up close) The Great Socialist is re-elected again and again through promises of change (always unkept) and corrupt electioneering. Balram's family, it is clear, will be poor forever.

The city, for Balram, consists of the glittery American-style mall (which he can't enter); the air-conditioned Honda that he drives; and the red bag stuffed with cash for politicians with power over The Stork's businesses. These two settings (and the human animals that inhabit them) set out a chasm that is utterly unbridgeable. Thus, when Balram murders his master (a fact established at the very beginning of the novel), it seems less a tragedy than the outcome of impeccable logic. I kept thinking of Dreiser's Sister Carrie, another small town character who migrates to the city.
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344 of 393 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Is White Tiger at best a Paper Tiger? December 23, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
White Tiger by Aravind Adiga has already won the Man Booker Prize, and it is being hailed universally by the critics for its virtues in presenting a narrative quite different from the Bollywood capers and the modern Indian English fiction. In the wake of some well-deserved praise, my biased review might appear like an afterthought, examining a foregone conclusion. My bias rises from my familiarity with characters like Balram Halwai, and from my reverence for uncelebrated works of Indian fiction that present the alternative reality of present day India. Reading the novel left me quite dissatisfied, and this is an exposition of the reason why.

The basic storyline of the novel can be summarized as follows. Balram Halwai grows up in a poor and remote village and ends up working as the driver for America returned Ashok. Incidentally Ashok is from the family of landlords who run or ruin the life of Balram's fellow villagers. Even though Ashok treats the Balram quite well compared to how servants and drivers are treated by other people, Balram siezes an opportunity to murder his master and run-off with money to become a rich businessmen. The story of Balram's journey from a village to city, the murder and his transformation into a entrepreneur is retold in form of letters that Balram writes in a course of seven nights. The letters are addressed to Chinese Premier and are laced with a dark wit and provocative confessions.

The novel succeeds in chartering into a territory unfamiliar and hence exotic for Western audiences, for Adiga chooses a character from lower classes and makes him into a success story.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Look Elsewhere
There are better works about India, such as "A Fine Balance" and "Beyond the Beautiful Forever."
Published 1 day ago by Patricia Endress
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, philosophical, but lacks action
Interesting, especially in describing India's lifestyle, somewhat philosophical. Reminded me "Crime and Punishment" of Dostoyevsky, but without a punishment... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Reynold Begbie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This was a great book
Published 29 days ago by Whitney Nelson
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece
I suspect, in time, this will be regarded as a minor masterpiece. Novels with charismatic anti-heroes and a compellingly confronting social critique usually generate controversy. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Joseph K. Fitzpatrick
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Amazing. Controversial. Interesting.
Published 1 month ago by Atticus
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read
Loved the book. So well-written I felt I was there, in India, living the life of the main character. Engaging, entertaining, enlightening. Brilliant. Highly recommended.
Published 1 month ago by PattyBF
1.0 out of 5 stars Hyped novel
Just hyped novel..didn't like it a bit
Published 1 month ago by Pradeep Nagaraja
3.0 out of 5 stars if I liked a book I read
This book is a required reading for a college course I am taking, but it was one of many books I ordered for one of my classes. When I finally got to this book, it was defective. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Karen
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Pretty good though not my fave subject matter.
Published 2 months ago by scintillatingone
3.0 out of 5 stars The irony of some passages is funny as black humor
I found the book somewhat depressing due to the continuing descriptions of poverty, squalor and despair. The irony of some passages is funny as black humor. The plot is convoluted. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Robert Grenier
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More About the Author

Aravind Adiga was born in India in 1974 and attended Columbia and Oxford universities. A former correspondent for Time magazine, he has also been published in the Financial Times. He lives in Mumbai, India.

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