Because Ideas Matter...
The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences presents
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
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