Asian Writers

June is dedicated to authors with ASIAN of books in this category will be posted all month....

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The White Tiger

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Author - Arvind Adiga

For as long as I can remember, we had a driver and later on two drivers to ensure 24 hours availability. This is a perk one enjoys if your father happens to be in the upper management of a public sector unit in India – even if the car is an ambassador. Later on when I got my own car but didn’t gain enough courage to drive on the chaotic roads of Hyderabad, I had a driver to ensure that I reached my destination safely.
But, no memory of mine has any resemblance to the atrocities meted by the White Tiger’s master and his family members. In fact it was quite different. They were treated with a lot of respect, it was ensured that they were not called upon odd hours or made to do long hours of duty, and even though they no longer serve my dad in the capacity of drivers, they do stop by frequently just as an acquaintance.
As for the driver that I had, well, he borrowed five thousand from me and I never saw him again.

Now, that I have absolved myself of any potential guilt, time for the book review.

What the book is about

Well it’s about a driver who calls himself the “white tiger” for reasons explained in the book. It’s his story of how he turned from a driver into an entrepreneur and he is narrating these incidents to none other than the Chinese Premier. The story covers the protagonists childhood days and paints a cruel yet realistic picture of the school system in the villages, the unwritten laws of caste that is still prevalent after 60 years of independence. Who says we are FREE?
The next few chapters covers the life of the hero as a driver and the trials and tribulations that he has to face that ultimately lead in his killing the employer, after which he is forced to abandon his current life and don the role of an entrepreneur.

What I liked

The book is a quick read, and will keep the reader enticed. The writing is simplistic which I now firmly believe is the distinguishing characteristic of the Indian authors. Probably, because English isn’t our first language?
There is nothing new in the book that as an Indian I haven’t see or read about. It’s all familiar and quite ingrained into our day to day living so much so that we have ceased to even acknowledge its very existence. Yet, even this common knowledge has been converted into an interesting story that flows seamlessly. A good story with a good ending - money’s worth. Not sure though it was Booker material – but foreigners love to read about our misery, poverty, illiteracy and I guess these are good reasons to qualify for a Booker or an Oscar 

What I didn’t like
Its strengths are its weakness – the writing is simplistic, the story is common. 
There are lines that are repeated across the book – word for word – like the one about poets that makes it unpleasant. There are some texts that border on being racist (about Muslims) which I believe could have been edited without impacting the story.
One line that I found funny was when the writer is in a descriptive mode about a village scene in which he goes – “the water was muddy, the buffaloes were…” and then “the water sparkled in the sunlight…” Umm…Mr Adiga, where have you seen muddy water sparkle???
The one thing that irked me most was the line – “I wanted to dip my beak…” repeated again and again. Why is sex and sex related words or body parts such a taboo still? Grow up.
And yes, just because the book is published by Harper Collins, it doesn’t imply that the binding quality will be good – by the time I finished the book, the pages had come off. 


  1. A good book. A better review.

    -Came here via goodreads-

    1. Thanks for stopping by and reading my review. Your name doesn't show up...