This was my holiday book recommendation for Barnes & Noble and I have been so excited to see a real outpouring of readers on this novel. White Tiger by Aravind Adiga is a truly original story of the cast system in India. The main characters desperation and determination will not be satiated by anything but success. A man who is born into a particular cast system in India does not easily pull himself out and up but Balram is no ordinary man and plans to inform a foreign dignitary of just that by writing him a letter and confessing to a murder.
Balram strikes first as a simple man who is born into the lower class of India. He is destined to become a nothing, a disappointment to his family, and general loner. Adiga shows a very unromantic vision of India, glorifying it’s truly great monuments and beauties, but reminding the reader that there is a dark world where poverty exists and it is disgusting there. Balram is not a smart man of education, but he is ambitious and a man of many means, and knows when to take advantage of a situation. The character himself is complex. Adiga gives him so many startling layers that you go back and for from loving him and cheering him on to despising him and hoping he gets caught.
This is an India tale that really struck me. It was less about the cultural trials that Balram encountered but the frank determination of a single man and his ability to overcome the world around him. Adiga uses the cultural cast system in India as backdrop, but Balram is truly the reason I clung to this book. He was so vast and complicated, but ridiculous and irritating at the same time. Adiga certainly was deserving of the Booker Prize and I cannot wait to see what he writes next.