Just Read: The White Tiger

Posted: January 7, 2011 in Books
Tags: , , , , ,

I’d been seeing and ignoring this book at various book shops in India for a couple of years now and had all intention to never read it. However, reading Arvind Adiga’s two essays – on living in Bombay & Delhi – turned me around. I liked those essays so much that I couldn’t wait to read this book.

Thus, I spent £7.99 on a book that I could’ve picked up from any roadside vendor back home for Rs. 50. Was it worth it, I’d say yes.

The book was tedious to begin with but once you get past the start, it begins to get interesting. The end was just as I expected it to be – swift. Despite the introduction on back cover and online, it’s not a murder mystery. It’s a story of a journey which also, unfortunately, involves a murder (or 14). It’s a story of a hen flying  the coop and turning into a tiger. Not just any tiger, a white tiger. I shouldn’t write any more about it. I’d just say – read it, it’s worth your time.


  1. jina says:

    Coincidence. I read it two weeks back too.:)
    I liked the style and the dark and broodiness of it all.
    But I was disappointed by its predictability and lack of twists and turns and thought it was a bit overhyped!! But then, its an awesome debut book

    • raven says:

      Of course, it is over-hyped if you read it as a murder mystery. In fact, as a murder story, it’s pretty crappy.

      The reason I loved the book was because the murder was just a small, almost tiny, piece of the story. The real story is that of escaping, what he calls, the pigeon coop and turning into a white tiger. The story of how even today caste, society and family put such big constraints on a person’s life. I liked the story of how a simple, quiet lad was slowly corrupted by a city’s bright lights because he refused to join the existing social structure in the city (driver’s gathering). Also, if you read from a certain perspective, how Ashok’s civil behaviour encouraged Balram to grow his balls and develop ambition.

      The brilliance of this book lies, for me, not in that stupid murder story but in the story of how india is changing. And how the different rates of change in various parts of society are giving rise to new power centres (vijay) and new social structures (class based, instead of caste based groupings in gurgaon).

      Frankly, I found this book to be a gem. It told a story of modern India that most of us white-collared middle class people don’t see. And those who do see, go to great lengths to ignore.

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