“See, the poor dream all their lives of getting enough to eat and looking like the rich. And what do the rich dream of?? Losing weight and looking like the poor.”
In general I enjoy reading books set in a different culture. I see it as a different way of travelling, exploring the unknown. Unfortunately the catch is that I won’t be knowing if the author is describing the unknown world correctly, and that was also my doubt with The White Tiger. I just couldn’t keep wondering if the life in India really is as Aravind Adiga describes it in his novel. I know The White Tiger is ment as a fiction novel, but still… I felt that the author mostly used Balram Halwai, the main character, to express his own social criticism. I just couldn’t get a feel for the character and I had to struggle to actually finish The White Tiger. A shame, because the story could have been that much more interesting… If only the author would have downsized on the social criticism and invested more words into character building.
Balram Halwai is a man of many faces and he has a dark side: he murdered his former employer Mr. Ashok. The story is told through a letter Balram is writing to the Chinese president who is about to visit India. He wants to show him the ‘real’ India, en tells his own life story and journey out of poverty without looking for forgiveness. Balram was born in a small village in the middle of rural India. Life was hard, but he gets to escape the village when he is hired as a driver for the wealthiest man of the village (Mr. Ashok). He gets to know the city, and sees the not-so-legal things his employer is up to. Slowly he comes to the understanding how the city works and he starts to do some little side jobs (like refilling and reselling expensive whiskey bottles). He is the rare white tiger trying to survive in the caste jungle… And he has some very non-orthodox ways of reaching that goal.
I was really excited when I was gifted this book, but unfortunately that enthusiasm faded away once I started reading The White Tiger. The main character Balram is bland, boring and doesn’t make you connect with the story at all. The social criticism is just too much and even though part of the book is ment as a satire, I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I would have thought before reading it. I like books set in foreign cultures, but The White Tiger just didn’t do it for me. There are definitely way better books about the Indian culture out there and therefore I wouldn’t recommend reading this novel by Aravind Adiga.