Tag Archives: Aravind Adiga

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

The White Tiger by Aravind AdigaTitle: The White Tiger
Author: Aravind Adiga
Publisher: Free Press, Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 978-1416562603
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Indian Writing in English
Pages: 304
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 2.5/5

Every time I tried reading, “The White Tiger” I was unsuccessful. I couldn’t move beyond the tenth page. There was something about it, or something about me that didn’t enable the turning of the page after a certain point. I tried reading it in 2008 when it was first published. I tried reading it when it won the Booker that year, and many other times. I couldn’t.

Till I did a couple of days ago, and well, it turned out to be the first read of 2021. I must say that I was left disappointed. I could not empathise with any character. I mean I so wanted to with Balram at least. The one who rises above the very real and deep-rooted caste system. The one who does it all, no matter what it takes. It is Balram who is narrating the story. He could also be an unreliable narrator, but I was willing to believe it all. I was hanging on to every word till I stopped.

Balram Halwai is the protagonist of The White Tiger, or perhaps it is circumstances of one and millions of Indians who are drummed into believing that they have to serve. So, he serves. He is the son of a rickshaw puller, born in the heartland of India. He works at a tea-stall, also crushes coal, and dreams of a better life. Opportunity knocks when a big landlord hires him as a chauffeur for his son, daughter-in-law, and also to do other tasks around the house. For him, life is better when he is asked to move to Delhi with the couple, and thereon he plans his escape, so he can be a man who is at the top of the pyramid of life.

Yes, Adiga tries hard to speak of poverty, caste system, discrimination, of what he calls the “Rooster Coop” – as a metaphor for describing the oppression of the poor in the country. He does all of this, but somehow, I couldn’t find any nuance. The writing failed to make an impact. I couldn’t feel anything for any character. I did guffaw in very few places, but that was that. I did turn the pages quickly because it is that kind of read. Perhaps the very few Booker winning titles, that are actually readable. Maybe I read it because of the hype of the movie that releases on the 22nd of this month, starring Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Rajkumar Rao. Whatever it is, the first read of the year turned out to be a dud.

Books and Authors mentioned in The White Tiger:

  • Harry Potter Series
  • Rumi
  • Iqbal
  • Mirza Ghalib
  • James Hadley Chase
  • Kahlil Gibran
  • Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
  • The Joy of Sex
  • Desmond Bagley

Playlist for The White Tiger:

  • Hazaron Khwaaishein Aisi by Shubha Mudgal
  • Fields of Gold by Sting
  • On My Way Home by Enya
  • I Want to Break Free by Queen
  • Return to Innocence by Enigma
  • Jawaane Jaaneman
  • Changes by Tara George
  • Hey Jude by The Beatles
  • Freedom by George Michael
  • Dil Jalane ki Baat by Farida Khannum

Amnesty by Aravind Adiga

Amnesty by Aravind Adiga Title: Amnesty
Author: Aravind Adiga
Publisher: Picador India
ISBN: 978-9389109436
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 272
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3/5

I was very eager to read this one, because I loved Last Man in Tower, when I first read it in 2011. I still remember the book as vividly. I don’t know if I will be able to say this of Amnesty, nine years from now. It is not that I did not like the read. It is just that I had great expectations from it, which it did not live upto.

Amnesty is a book about Danny, a young adult in his twenties from Sri Lanka, who has been living illegally in Australia for four years as a cleaner. The book is about one of the residents’ death that Danny cleaned for. Danny might know what happened but does not want to come clean because if he did that might get him deported.

The writing to me was quite disjointed and didn’t sort of add up in many places as a whole. There were brilliant moments but only few and far and in-between. All the tropes are there – of accountability, of being human, of showing empathy,  and of understanding the prejudice that exists towards immigrants. Yet the novel did not take-off from me. Like I said, Adiga does know how to write and build the character, and perhaps also make you a part of their life, but somehow Danny’s story of strife and humanity did not strike a chord with me.

I wish Amnesty had the heart of Last Man in Tower or the cleverness of Between the Assassinations, but I am just being biased. You should read the book if you want to, and decide for yourself. At the most, it definitely proved to be a page-turner of a read.