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The White Tiger

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  162,390 ratings  ·  10,543 reviews
Introducing a major literary talent, The White Tiger offers a story of coruscating wit, blistering suspense, and questionable morality, told by the most volatile, captivating, and utterly inimitable narrator that this millennium has yet seen.

Balram Halwai is a complicated man. Servant. Philosopher. Entrepreneur. Murderer. Over the course of seven nights, by the scattered
Hardcover, 276 pages
Published 2008 by Free Press
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Average rating 3.74  · 
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 ·  162,390 ratings  ·  10,543 reviews

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Nandakishore Varma
This review contains what may be spoilers. Even though I do not think it will spoil your reading experience, I am putting the warning here because one reader pointed it out.


Before I begin my review, a statutory warning to all my patriotic Indian brothers and sisters... this is India-bashing, large scale. If you are the sort of person who gets all worked up when any aspect of India is criticised, this book is not for you.

That said, Arvind Adiga bashes India w
Ahmad Sharabiani
The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga

The White Tiger is the debut novel by Indian author Aravind Adiga. It was first published in 2008 and won the 40th Man Booker Prize in the same year.

The novel provides a darkly humorous perspective of India’s class struggle in a globalized world as told through a retrospective narration from Balram Halwai, a village boy.

In detailing Balram's journey first to Delhi, where he works as a chauffeur to a rich landlord, and then to Bangalore, the place to which he flees
Will Byrnes
Dec 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
They remain slaves because they can’t see what is beautiful in this world. That’s the truest thing anyone said…Even as a boy I could see what was beautiful in the world: I was destined not to stay a slave.
The White Tiger is a grim, biting, unsubtle look at 21st Century India, stuck in the mire of a corrupt, cynical past, and debauching and slaughtering its way into a corrupt and cynical future, told by a working class fellow who, through ambition, intelligence, and a willingness to be utterl
Always Pouting
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure what I expected going into this book but it wasn't really this. The book was very tongue in cheek and I could completely sympathize with our narrator even at the end. The idealistic part of me was a little horrified and upset by a lot of it but I think it's pretty realistic and really made me think about the servant/master dynamic in a way I hadn't considered before. I'm just torn about whether to rate it four stars or five because the ending felt a little anticlimactic but at the s ...more
Dec 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Well the stories of murderers and psychopaths are generally like cakes to most of us(and i am no exception). I either love such protagonists or hate them whole-heartedly. Coming to Balaram, the situation is different. I had never felt anything for him even after reading 300 pages. I didn’t even hate him and I was completely indifferent towards him mainly because I felt that his character is artificial and inconsistent.
Every time I read a cynical work or a satire I feel that I have become a bit
Paul Bryant
Mar 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels, india
The perfect companion piece to Slumdog Millionaire, and if you didn't like that movie, you won't like this book for the same reasons. It's a no-nonsense bulldozing mordant splenetic jackhammer of a story written as a tough slangy 300 page fast-reading monologue. It's a novel of information, not art. It tells you all about modern India with a traditional rags-to-riches fable. Our hero murders his employer unapologetically, and that's how he gets his riches. This is not rocket science. This is sma ...more
Sep 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The "White Tiger of Bangalore" is cunning, fast, intrepid-- the perfect symbol for this perfect novel that reminds the reader of characters like Scarface & friends-- Antiheroes all. Adiga's yarn is utterly engrossing; it's a mystery unraveled in the purest tradition of classic storytelling. It has that picaresque quality (which is one of the hardest tricks for a novelist to pull off, truly, really) needed to balance out all the heaviness of a constant train of melancholic events (violence and te ...more
Dr. Appu Sasidharan
Dec 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
No country and human being in this world are perfect. There are negatives in every country and its people, and it should be criticized. I am happy that the author, who happens to be an Indian by birth, was brave enough to criticize some of these in this book. But there is a big difference between criticism and outright lambasting. If you are a patriotic Indian, there is a high probability that this book will permanently damage your feelings.

The amount of grandiosity that the protagonist possesse
May 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Putnam
Sep 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this book and it goes in my top five favorite in a very cramped literary category, along with City of Thieves. Highly recommend this one.

David Putnam author of the Bruno Johnson Series.
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
The White Tiger is a contemporary fictional account of ambition in an unbridled corrupt Indian society, where rigid social class dictates what options are available. Aravind Adiga arrived with the wave of fantastic Indian authors providing insights into their country and the restraints that shackle them to their caste system. As India transitions from a developing country to a world leader in science and technology output, it is struggling to modernise with regards equal opportunity, a
Sep 11, 2016 rated it liked it
To begin with, let me tell you first, of my association with this novel. I had never finished any contemporary novel, to put it bluntly, Who cares!..was my attitude towards the contemporary writers, by the time I had bought this novel.

This was my first ever contemporary novel, mainly of an Indian origin author, which I read complete. This had got that years Booker and was getting highlighted in the media. I used to think by that time that writers, worthy of reading, were only those, who were eit
The Book Whisperer (aka Boof)
Jan 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to The Book Whisperer (aka Boof) by: Christmas present
I have just this minute finished this book and I can already tell that it will be one of those books that I will think about often. It's not a book whose plot I can easily explain, or a book that I can easily fit into a particular genre on my shelves, but my God did it pack a powerful punch. I have hardly been able to put it down between sittings.

The books is narrated via a letter from Balram Halwai, a slum-dweller-turned-driver-turned-murderer-turned-entrepreneur, to the Chinese President befor
Jul 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Another one of those books that I never would have read without Goodreads reviewers.

Told in the first person, this was an engaging, funny, at times not funny, and an interesting read throughout. I read it in two sittings. After the first sitting I was thinking 4 stars just because the writing was so damn good, and after I finished I couldn’t give it anything less than 5 stars. My compliments to Aravind Adiga! 😊

An interesting gaggle of characters. This novel is nothing about white tigers…it’s a n
May 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Best contemporary novel I've read this year. Antidote for the pastel lyricism of most mainstream novels coming out of India and a wonderful social satire with savage bit. Kind of like Terry Southern's best work if he hadn't been all weeded up and goofy.
An image from it that sticks with me is how Ghandi's image gets appropriated by the current Indian bureaucracy. Whenever the narrator encounters the hanging Ghandi portrait he sees it as a symbol of "bribes work here, corruption at work". Perhap
Tea Jovanović
Jan 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've read this book while it was still unpublished manuscript and fell in love immediately... Because it gave me the same pleasure as Vikas Swarup's Q&A... ...more
Tamoghna Biswas
**3.5 stars**

An Unpopular opinion about A Popular novel:

Before starting, it’s better to say that nothing in here is a reminiscence of what I felt about the book when I read it when it first came out. At that time, I was just beginning to read books by Indian authors in English, and was bluffed by it entirely and recommended it to everyone. It is still recommendable, with exception of the two types:

1) Those who love India so much that they can't tolerate a single word against the cou
Riku Sayuj
Feb 04, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommended to Riku by: Puneet Raheja
Why would a book like this win any award whatsoever? Sigh...
"If we were in India now, there would be servants standing in the corners of this room and I wouldn't notice them. That is what my society is like, that is what the divide is like."--Aravind Adiga

The White Tiger, The Man Booker Prize winner of 2008, has unsettled critics and readers alike. It is a provocative book as it paints an unflattering portrait of India as a society racked by corruption and servitude, exposing the country's dark side. This grim world is far removed from the glossy images
Nov 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: indian-fiction
It is about stark poverty and unbridled opportunism,a wonderful story,brilliantly told.

Balram Halwai,the protagonist is a dark character,with sinister motives He comes from a background of desperate poverty,starts off as a servant,ends up as a criminal but gets what wants.

It is disturbing,and all too realistic, because there are plenty of real life parallels in the stories of servants turned criminals in the subcontinent.

This book won the Booker Prize and is a worthy winner.Usually,I'm not too k
Dec 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Rowena by: Dorcas
This was a great, darkly humorous book a friend recommended to me stating that it was her favourite book of 2012. I can definitely see why.

In this novel we find Balram Halwai, a sweetmaker from a small Indian village. He is from a low caste and finds a job working as a servant/driver to a rich Indian man. Halwai eventually escapes from his caste in a very unconventional way; by killing his boss. He then narrates his actions to the Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao, whom he admires greatly.

This book
Umut Rados
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fab read. I can't recommend it enough. Very engaging writing with dark humour displaying India's realities about the big inequality in the society.
MUST read!
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I quite enjoyed the book. I was engaged cover-to-cover; it opened my eyes to much of the Indian culture, including paan chewing, Rickshaw pulling, and the closeness of extended families. It even gave me a brief visual tour of Delhi, where most of the story happened.
The book particularly portrayed the darker side of the booming India from the perspective of socially and economically disadvantaged population. I naturally would give more credence to the local author, but 10 years have passed since
Jan 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: indian-novels
It’s taken me a while to decide how I feel about this one, which is probably an indication that I didn’t really engage with the book.
The novel is written in the first person and is essentially epistolary (written to the Chinese leader; I found this way of presentation quite clumsy). It concerns Balram Halwai who is brought up in poverty in a small village, son of a rickshaw driver who dies from TB. Balram’s journey takes him from the village and menial jobs, to the job of driver-cum-servant for
Anthony Lipmann
Dec 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
I was travelling one evening by train from Yeovil Junction in Somerset to Woking in Surrey and noticed that one of the passengers, a woman with long beautiful curly hair, was buried in 'The White Tiger'. On English trains you have a corridor opposite the toilets, also used for storing bicyles on the journey, where there are also two or three collapsible and uncomfortable seats. It is rather noisy but this was where the girl with curly hair was sitting and for the two hours of the journey she bar ...more
Mar 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who enjoyed Hamid's "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" and Pears' "The Portrait"
A stunning first person narrative about a self-proclaimed murderer and entrepreneur. Balram Halwai, the complex narrator of the book, describes, in an obsessive, single-focued, unapologetic letter, his journey out of poverty from the Indian Darkness. It is a story about ambition, corruption, and power -- an amazing story about how one person in a country of servitude escapes his own station to become a man. Is he a visionary? Is he an iconoclast? Is he an amoral monster? The reader goes on a ver ...more
Reading_ Tam_ Ishly
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Winner of the 40th Booker Prize, 2008, the same year it got published; a debut novel by Aravind Adiga, it turns out as one of the best few books I have read in decades by an Indian author.

"The book of your revolution sits in the pit of your belly, young Indian. Crap it out and read."

In no way it's perfect perfect.

In no way it can be that easy for a nobody to become that crazy but yes, it happens in real. And crazier things keep happening like this everyday here.

The plot is nothing that dramati
Postcolonial lite. I feel like this is what I'm supposed to be reading while I listen to MIA and rock last season's mirrored "ethnic chic" from Urban Outfitters. To show that, you know, I'm a citizen of the world, and a really hip westerner who gets the shifting forces of globalization.... did I feel a bit pandered to? I did feel a bit pandered to. Just a bit, now. Oh, this book was okay.

Fine, actually it was an entertaining and engaging rags-to-riches story about injustice and inequality in a c
Mar 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-we-own

Simply Kickass

Deserving of the accolades.

Full review to come.
May 19, 2020 rated it really liked it


Balram Halwai was just called Munna (boy) when he was a child, because his relatives were 'too busy' to give him a real name.

Balram was renamed by his school teacher, a dishonest man who taught almost nothing and stole the lunch money and uniforms provided for the students.

This conduct is emblematic of Balsam's village of Laxmangarh, which Balsam calls 'the darkness' - a part of India where the majority poor population is mercilessly exploited and misused, espe
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Schlafly Global B...: The White Tiger 10 14 Jan 22, 2021 11:02PM  
Balram a mystery!!! 7 99 Apr 01, 2020 06:42PM  
The Journey to success! 2 20 Mar 13, 2019 07:47PM  

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Aravind Adiga was born in 1974 in Madras (now called Chennai), and grew up in Mangalore in the south of India. He was educated at Columbia University in New York and Magdalen College, Oxford. His articles have appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, the Sunday Times, the Financial Times, and the Times of India. His debut novel, The White Tiger, won the Man Booker Prize for fiction in 2008 ...more

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