It was thought that the gods blew on creative people, who would then inhale the god's breath and have an idea. This is the premise of "inspiration": inhaling divine breath and ideas.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

The name of the book 'White Tiger' brought back fond memories of two of my favorite books: 'A Tiger for Malgudi' by R.K Narayan and 'Life of Pi' by Yann Martel. I thought Aravind Adiga would also tell us a story of a white tiger being tamed in mountains, but this storyteller had captured a different tiger in his pages. A rare one! This book is about the white tiger's journey from the world of darkness to a chandelier lit world.

The white tiger( Munna/Balram/Ashok Sharma) makes a confession in a letter to His Excellency Wen Jiabao. I won't call it a confession, No. The white tiger is not guilty of his sin. In fact he gives a brief account of events which have transformed his life from an aspiring student to an Entrepreneur. The ladder whose rungs break away with each move ahead, there is only one way for the white tiger. To move ahead. That's exactly what he does. Some of my favorite excerts from the books:

Like all good Bangalore stories, mine begins far away from Bangalore. You see, I am in the Light now, But I was born and raised in Darkness.
But thos is not a time of a day I talk about, Mr.Premier!
I am talking of a place in India, atleast a third of the country, a fertile place, full of rice fields and wheat fields and ponds in the middle of those fields choked with lotuses and water lilies and water buffaloes wading through the ponds and chewing on the lotuses and lilies. Those who live in this place call it Darkness. Please understand, Your Escellency, that India is two countries in one: An India of Ligh and India of Darkness. The ocean brings light to my country.Every place on the map of India near ocean is well off. But the river brings Darness to India-the black river.

The inspector pointed his cane straight at me. 'You, young man, are an intelligent, honest, vivacious fellow in this crowd of thugs and idiots. In any jungle what is the rarest of animals-the crature that comes along only once in a generation?'

I thought about it and said:
'The white tiger'
'Thats what you are, in this jungle'.

Adiga's style of story telling is definitely praise worthy. He really KNOWS what he's writing! At places it reminded me of Shantaram, but the shades disappeared and the singularity of white tiger began to appear more prominently. No where did I see any trace of V.S.Naipaul's 'INDIA- a million mutinies now'. I am glad about it. Adiga's style of writing is raw but true, served hot for the reader! It's like a slap on the face! Like it or not....

Applaud! Applaud! Applaud! For Aravind Adiga! He is a true observer of 'people of India'. All classes of people, not just the IIT students or the call centre employees. In every true sense of the word 'ALL', the book speaks about the people of India. The rich, the poor, the obsessed, the suppressed, the greedy, the needy, the literate, the illiterate,the employer, the employee, the citizen, the politician..... The list goes on. Truly one of it's kind, rightly deserves the Booker Prize.


  1. //pplaud! Applaud! Applaud! For Aravind Adiga! He is a true observer of 'people of India'. All classes of people, not just the IIT students or the call centre employees.//

    Hahha...I agree...Nice review

  2. eAdiga is certainly way apart.
    One thing is for sure- He is different. His wittiness, dark humour certainly carry you to a different literature genre.
    Above all his work doesn't appear like works of Anita Desai-poor-hungry-superstitious-obnoxious-India types.

  3. Thank you Pi and Sudharm for your comments.

    Long before 'The white Tiger' even surfaced, I was contemplating about this 'Situation' where the slave has cash in his hand but dutifully comes back to the master. What if he runs!

    He can never come back, it's not even the fear of police or jail. It's the fear of loss of this normal monotonous but secure 'Life'.

  4. A good post, sensitively handled. Well done.


  5. I read The white tiger after I read about the book in your and VIshnu's blog. I liked the book. But I do not think it is everybody's story in India. It is just like One day in a call center or Five point someone about a certain class of people. India being as huge and diverse as it is would be difficult to put it in one book. I did like the honesty in the book. But I do believe it is just another flavour and not the whole picture.

  6. Hi Rafiki,

    The white tiger is about a fraction of a population, I agree. But it's nothing like Five point someone or A night at the call centre. That's because the 'fraction' of people in 'white tiger' are more common in INDIA. The rich but heartless masters, the poor and downtrodden workers. It's focussing a wider spectrum!