The White Tiger- The Man Booker Prize Winner 2008
The book jacket reads:
Meet Balram Halwai, the ‘White Tiger’: servant, philosopher, entrepreneur, and murderer. Over the course of seven nights, by the scattered light of a preposterous chandelier, Balram tells his story. Born in a village in the dark heart of India, the son of a rickshaw puller, Balram is taken out of school by his family and put to work in a teashop. As he crushes coal and wipes tables, he nurses a dream of escape- of breaking away from the banks of Mother Ganga, into whose murky depths have seeped the remains of a hundred generations.
His big chance comes when a rich village landlord hires him as a chauffeur for his son, daughter-in-law, and their two Pomeranian dogs. From behind the wheel of a Honda, Balram first sees Delhi. The city is a revelation. Amid the cockroaches and call-centres, the 36,000,004 gods, the slums, the shopping malls and the crippling traffic jams, Balram’s re-education begins. Caught between his instinct to be a loyal son and servant, and his desire to better himself, he learns of a new morality at the heart of a new India. As the other servants flick through the pages of Murder Weekly, Balram begins to see how the Tiger might escape his cage. For surely any successful man must spill a little blood on his way to the top? The White Tiger is a tale of two Indias. Balram’s journey from the darkness of village life to the light of entrepreneurial success is utterly amoral, brilliantly irreverent, deeply endearing and altogether unforgettable.
Balram is a likable character even though he goes from being the protagonist to the antagonist, or rather, an entrepreneur, as he likes to call himself. He is very natural. He is afraid of the black fort, but goes to the edge of the pond every time, to test whether he can overcome the fear. He is jealous of Ram Prasad, the servant no.1, who played badminton with Pinky Madam, and drove the Honda while he had to be satisfied with Maruti Sujuki. He rebels against his granny, yet loves her. He understands integrity and goodness isn’t all that’s needed to make it big in life. He honors, adores and obeys Mr.Ashok, yet murders him in the end, to gain back his freedom and escape from the ‘rooster coup’. This novel, winner of the Man Booker Prize-2008, is a literary fiction.
Read the complete review in Half Baked Voices.