- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 8 hours and 5 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Tantor Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: April 28, 2008
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0018O22X0
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The White Tiger: A Novel Audiobook – Unabridged
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His letters describe his rise through Indian society, from abject poverty to his current place as a wealthy entrepreneur, that is to say, his escape from the rooster coop of poverty on his way to becoming a White Tiger.
The reader is provided a long, disheartening look at the two extremes of Indian society; the great majority of citizens in this populous nation (over one billion strong) live in dire poverty, while only a few (the fortunate one percent) live the good life, all at the expense of the masses beneath them. This situation is certainly not unique to India. One can easily find such sharp divides--rich and poor--in any number of nations around the globe.
Balram's rise is a bit more daunting because of the rigid caste system that dominates Indian society. To see his future, he only has to look at his father, a stick of a man who pulls rickshaws, and always will. Balram is also locked in by the expectations of his family. His grandmother, Kusum, demands that he send his wages back to her, and her demands carry the weight of social law. Any son who doesn't comply becomes an outcast and brings shame upon the family.
So, to achieve his goals, Balram must battle on two fronts. He succeeds by murdering his boss, and then hides in plain sight. In one humorous incident, a man sees Balram's likeness on a wanted poster, but can't read the text that follows. Balram concocts a ludicrous story, giving himself great credit for the poster, and goes on about his business.
White Tiger is apparently a debut novel, and is quite well written for an initial effort. Even though the main character is somewhat less than admirable, the story line is entertaining and makes for a lively read.
This is India, the modern India, the very Human India, the very poor India, yet, the India with pride and beautiful people and long standing Culture and traditions.
The novel is narrated by Balram Halwai, "The White Tiger" who over seven nights shares his life story in the form of a letter to a Chinese official. In Balram the author has created an anti-hero who, with both charisma and charm, shares a very dark story about corruption, death and escape from the most extreme poverty into the wealth of successful entrepreneurship. The author uses the metaphors of light and dark to help us understand his traversal of a side of India seldom seen in most tales of that country. The theme of naming/identity also plays an important role as Balram takes on different names as he grows and changes from the simple munna to his eventual magisterial identity as "The White Tiger". The author has created a sort of modern journey, much as Ellison did where the hero overcomes his beginnings, and the corruption he finds everywhere, to create a new life for himself. It is, however, a new life that is strangely cut off from society so he remains an outsider to the end. The brilliant conception of the author impressed me as he presented believable characters, the realistic details about the best and worst of Indian society, and a clear depiction of the nature of the hero at the center of the story. There is black humor that is sometimes excruciatingly funny alongside true regret, and underlying it all hints of a fear (of the past) that cannot be completely eradicated. The author's voice is original and challenging as he takes you on a journey that, while seemingly straightforward, has many layers of meaning and leaves you with questions to ponder. Genuinely deserving of the Man Booker Prize of 2008, The White Tiger is both an engaging enjoyable read and a thought-provoking meditation on life.
Born in a low caste in a poor village (the darkness), Balram becomes an entrepreneur in a big city (the light). And what if has to resort to murder in order to achieve it?
Sometimes, it seems it's the only way, at least that is how Adiga tells us the story of an ordinary man who finally decides to break free of traditions, history and family in order to live the life he has always dreamed.
At times humorous and at many other dark, this is an amazing book. Highly recommended!