Balram Halwai is the White Tiger - the smartest boy in his village. His family is too poor for him to afford for him to finish school and he has to work in a teashop, breaking coals and wiping tables. But Balram gets his break when a rich man hires him as a chauffeur, and takes him to live in Delhi. The city is a revelation. As he drives his master to shopping malls and call centres, Balram becomes increasingly aware of immense wealth and opportunity all around him, while knowing that he will never be able to gain access to that world.
As Balram broods over his situation, he realizes that there is only one way he can become part of this glamorous new India - by murdering his master."The White Tiger" presents a raw and unromanticised India, both thrilling and shocking - from the desperate, almost lawless villages along the Ganges, to the booming Wild South of Bangalore and its technology and outsourcing centres. The first-person confession of a murderer, "The White Tiger" is as compelling for its subject matter as for the voice of its narrator - amoral, cynical, unrepentant, yet deeply endearing.
Winner of Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2008.
Shortlisted for John Llewelyn Rhys Memorial Prize 2008.
Shortlisted for Commonwealth Writer's Prize best first book: South East Asia and the Pacific region
"Dazzling... [The White Tiger]is an Indian novel that explodes the clichés... It's a thrilling ride through a global power... Brimming with idiosyncrasy, sarcastic, cunning, and often hilarious... Arch defenders of India's claim to be truly democratic, even-handedly prosperous and corruption-free (and these must be few outside of the Indian cabinet) might balk at The White Tiger. Everyone else, surely, will be seduced by it." Independent, UK "Unlike almost any other Indian novel you might have read in recent years, this page-turner offers a completely bald, angry, unadorned portrait of the county as seen from the bottom of the heap; there's not a sniff of saffron or a swirl of sari anywhere... The Indian tourist board won't be pleased, but you'll read it in a trice and find yourself gripped."Sunday Times UK
This first novel by Indian writer Adiga depicts the awakening of a low-caste Indian man to the degradation of servitude. While the early tone of the book calls to mind the heartbreaking inequities of Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance, a better comparison is to Frederick Douglass's narrative about how he broke out of slavery. The protagonist, Balram Halwai, is initially delighted at the opportunity to become the driver for a wealthy man. But Balram grows increasingly angry at the ways he is excluded from society and looked down upon by the rich, and he murders his employer. He reveals this murder from the start, so the mystery is not what he did but why he would kill such a kind man. The climactic murder scene is wonderfully tense, and Balram's evolution from likable village boy to cold-blooded killer is fascinating and believable. Even more surprising is how well the narrative works in the way it's written as a letter to the Chinese premier, who's set to visit Bangalore, India. Recommended for all libraries".
Aravind Adiga was born in Madras in 1974. He has lived in India, Australia, America and the UK. He has worked for the Financial Times in New York and for Time in India. His short story collection, Between the Assassinations, was published by Picador India in 2007. The White Tiger is his first novel.