CLJ Reviews The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
For my second book, I choice The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. My choice this time was simple – It had recently won the Booker, it had a colourful book jacket and, well, let’s face it books set in India, full of sensual delights always seem to be a hit. The White Tiger didn’t disappoint, sparking some fiery debate regarding the moral fibre of the protagonist, and musings on how the path from poverty to riches can change someone forever. The story is of how Balram, the son of a richshaw puller in the darkness of rural India, learns to drive and begins working as a chauffeur for a rich family in Dehli, “The Light”. From the air-conditioned confines of his spacious Honda City which he shuttles daily from Shopping Mall to luxury condo tower – Balram gains increasing exposure to a world of wealth and privilege which remains firmly closed to him. Near the end of the book he decides to make his move and build an entrepreneurial empire – not without making some serious moral compromise. I won’t give all of it away, but suffice it to say that Balram’s odyssey against the rollicking world of an India beset by social, economic and technological change is a great read and was a hit with the CLJ.
What We Did (and How We Did It)
The White Tiger features a periodic running correspondence between two high ranking officials in India and China. After all, this is the age of China and India’s global ascendancy. In honour of this historic rise, I staged a simple trivia game based on the geography, history and natural history of the two countries. I had been strongly critiqued for a much, much too complicated challenge on my last choice, the Zanzibar Chest, so I decided to keep this one simple. One contestant was still pretty challenged, answering “Mountain” for every question. He didn’t win the trophy.
What We Thought
The book was generally well received by the group who appreciated its lively depictions of India on the rise and the protagonist’s (mis) adventures. Our converstation became pretty much stuck on debating the moral integrity of the protagonist and whether the actions he took to rise to wealth were justifiable or morally wrong. There was some pretty deep division on this issue which made for a really energetic conversation.
As told by Godfrey von Bismarck…
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