College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Liberal Arts Matters

Because Ideas Matter...

The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences presents

Recommended Readings

The White Tiger The White Tiger

by Aravind Adiga, Free Press, 2008

Reviewed by Ania Spyra

If you liked the cinematic hit Slumdog Millionaire, you might also like last year's Booker Prize winning novel: Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger. Both deal with a rags-to-riches story of a smart Indian boy.

Both suggest that living in utter poverty and deprivation makes it hard to live like a human being rather than an animal; and both imply that only by an extreme stroke of luck one can escape that life. How rarely it happens, in fact, functions as the central metaphor of the novel: only once in a generation is a white tiger born.

You might actually like the book more, because it lacks cinematic shortcuts and simplifications. You will not find Bollywood optimism in The White Tiger, just raw emotion and crude reality in a riveting narrative. While it will make you laugh, it will not make you feel good. The nameless - because his parents forget to name him - narrator of The White Tiger is not a character who is easy to like. You root for him, you laugh with him and at him, but you also fear him.

Through his character, Adiga describes and denunciates the corruption of India's city life, as well as the depth of ignorance and despotism of desperate families in its rural regions. The narrator calls it "Darkness" as he struggles to get out into the "Light." And the struggle does not end with the last page: no choreographed dance routine at the close.

-Ania Spyra is an assistant professor of English at Butler University.