Over the weekend I finished reading The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. It was a very interesting book, set in India and taking us from the rural and rather poor areas, to the bright lights of New Delhi and Bangalore. However, while it was interesting and at times intriguing, I am still trying to decide whether I enjoyed it or not.
The main character in this story is a young Indian man named Balram (well, this is just one of a few names he goes by throughout the book). We first meet him sitting at the desk of his business in Bangalore, writing a letter to the Chinese Premier at that time, who will soon be visiting India and is looking to meet with young Indian entrepeneurs – which is exactly what Balram is, so in his eyes the Premier should listen to him and meet with him. The entire narrative of the story is Balram writing a letter to the Premier over several nights, talking about his life and explaining how he got to be where he is today. Whether this letter ever makes it to the Premier, we don’t find out.
The book follows Balram from a young age when he is at school. We are with him when he is taken out of school and made to work to help support his family, and when he betters himself by getting a position in the house of a prominent family as a driver. This position soon takes him to New Delhi and from here he eventually gets to Bangalore, which is where we find him.
As I said earlier, I have been trying to decide whether I liked this book or not. Overall, I enjoyed the narrative and the storyline, but I think what is causing me the most grief is the main character himself. At times I found him endearing and sympathetic towards him in difficult situations. But for the most part I found myself disliking him immensely. I feel that he was a selfish and non-caring person. Perhaps he made the decisions that he did based on the situations he was in, but every person still knows the difference between right and wrong. I could not connect with the main character and I therefore found it difficult to enjoy the rest of the book. It was interesting, but it’s not something that I would be in a hurry to read again.
RATING – 5 out of 10. I liked the storyline, but not a lot else.
WHO SHOULD READ IT – I think you should read it if you spend more time in the “Literature” section of your local book store, as opposed to the “Fiction” section.
WHO YOU’LL LOVE – Honestly? I can’t really pinpoint one character that I liked more than the others. I think that the most honest character in the book may have been Mr Ashok, so he probably stands out more than the others.
If anyone else has read this I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on this book.