Ashlie’s #CBR5 Review 26: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

The White Tiger is an amusingly dark novel with an interesting conceit. The narrator, Balram Halwai, tells his story of murder, oppression, and triumph through a letter he is writing over the course of several days to the Chinese premiere. It is bizarre, twisted, and compelling, and I highly recommend it.

Adiga’s portrayal of India received mixed reviews from what I have seen. Some critics felt his explanation and details were terribly exaggerated where others felt that he gave a fair, thigh exaggerated, picture of reality. I don’t know much about India so I read it with a bit of skepticism, assuming it to be sort of historical fiction in that respect. The caste system in and of itself is so different from my reality that the treatment of people in t he novel was jarring and horrific.
I really enjoy a story that gets you to root for the bad guy, and Adiga does just that. Balram is an admitted murderer, cold, calculating, narcissistic, and probably a little psychotic. Even so, he gets you to root for them because of the odds he is against, and the system he is caught within. Even though his decisions have probably lead his family to a horrible end, you can see why he made his choices. That sort of uncomfortable championing coupled with an effective use of a non-linear timeline makes for a good read.

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