White Tiger
Monday, August 3, 2009 at 8:47AM
[beastmomma] in 2009

Plot Summary from Amazon:

In this darkly comic début novel set in India, Balram, a chauffeur, murders his employer, justifying his crime as the act of a "social entrepreneur." In a series of letters to the Premier of China, in anticipation of the leader’s upcoming visit to Balram’s homeland, the chauffeur recounts his transformation from an honest, hardworking boy growing up in "the Darkness"—those areas of rural India where education and electricity are equally scarce, and where villagers banter about local elections "like eunuchs discussing the Kama Sutra"—to a determined killer. He places the blame for his rage squarely on the avarice of the Indian élite, among whom bribes are commonplace, and who perpetuate a system in which many are sacrificed to the whims of a few. Adiga’s message isn’t subtle or novel, but Balram’s appealingly sardonic voice and acute observations of the social order are both winning and unsettling.

My pleasure reading has really slowed down for the last few months.  It is taking me much longer to finish books.  Turns out that having a summer of transition does not leave me much time or motivation to finish books.  Thank goodness for honeymoons and beach time where I can sip a drink with an umbrella on a chair while flipping through a book.  I started White Tiger by Aravind Adiga while I was in India in March.  I would read the book in spurts.  Fortunately, the style of the book lends itself to be put down and picked up several times.  The book is a series of letters from the main character to the Chinese premier who is going to visit India.

The book offers insight into India's economic and social caste system.  On one level it is the story of how a village boy rises to the upper echelons of society.  On another level it is a story about the mindset of those in the lower class.   It is also a story about India's political and governmental corruption.   Parts of the story made my stomach hurt because I could relate to the main characters feelings of desperation, helplessness, and anger.  I also found myself upset at how some people seemed to have no consequences for their actions.   The analogy of a rooster coop is used to demonstrate the mindset of the poor and part of how servants and masters relate to each other.

I read this book for the Orbis Terrarum challenge.  

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