The White Tiger – Aravind Adiga
This is an interesting insight into the class differences of India, for those who remain oblivious to these. We see India though the eyes of Balram Halwai, a sweet maker by caste, yet a White Tiger looking for his freedom. As the driver of a rich, corrupt family which constantly bribes officials from politicians to policemen, Balram sees and hears all, which ultimately he uses to escape the shackles of his imprisonment from his master. Amidst the prostitution, corruption, filth, and deprivation, Balram bides his time until he comes out of the darkness, and crosses over into the light. I found this novel to be worthy of the Man Booker prize it won; as a first novel it kept me interested and also amused. I was disappointed by the ending and felt my enthusiasm deflate by the last chapter or so. It is similar to other books that I have read on India and its class system, especially in terms of the pollution, corruption, prostitution etc. The consensus in our group was that this was infact a really good read. We were interested to ask whether it accurately portrayed India and in the end were in agreement that it did reflect the sad realities of many of India’s poor and deprived. It was particularly significant for us living in Kuwait where many of us have housemaids and hired home help. I also thought it would be interesting to hear from those who have been brought up with different values and experienced these caste differences first hand, who might therefore have an appreciation for the differences, more than perhaps we could. A really interesting book, that is written in a very simplistic style, and manages to balance harsh realities with humour.