Grace Tjan's Reviews > The White Tiger

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
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May 27, 09

bookshelves: the-empire-writes-back, 2009, india
Read in May, 2009

The story of Balram Halwai is a familiar story not just to those who know India but also to those who live in other Third World 'democracies' where the real dividing line are less ideological than economical. Despite belonging to the same nation and culture, there is a huge, seemingly unbridgeable gulf between rich and poor. The rich, or at least the middle class, gets access to the best food, education, health care, in short to the best condition for life, while the poor languished in the darkness of poverty, ignorance and neglect. The half-baked men of the novel, men like Balram and his family, have no chance of ever breaking through this barrier, an artificial line defended not just by their exploitative landlords, but also by corrupt state apparatus and even certain men of religion. It is impossible for them to escape the 'chicken coop' into which society has consigned them for life except through an act of extraordinary defiance, such as what Balram finally resorted to. In a topsy-turvy world where the corrupt frolicked in five-star luxury with impunity while innocent men go to prison to atone for their masters' sins, who is to judge whether what he has done is right or wrong ?

An impressive debut novel, utterly unsentimental and clear-eyed in its view of the dark side of the rapidly changing India.
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Grace Tjan Makasih vote-nya. : )


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