«The White Tiger» (a book about Indian Society)

I don’t feel like justifying the protagonist of the book, I am certainly disgusted with the fact that in order to survive or succeed in life you have to adopt a self-destructing pattern: kill, cheat and lie, betray your family… However it is important to know this side of the developing world, if only to understand a little more about some people’s background…

Review by Darya Kalmykova

  • Author: Aravind Adiga
  • Nationality: India
  • Publishing House: Atlantic Books
  • Prize: Winner of the Man Booker Prize (2008)

The main character’s focus is the well-being, money. All the population is divided into two groups – the rich and the poor and even the division of the country territory into Lightness and Darkness is made based on this single criterion. No concern there exists with regard to the person’s soul; his thoughts, the depth of his interior world. Whenever people don’t have enough to eat the matters of the soul are the last thing on their mind. The reference to religion is made as to something totally unnecessary.  Family is perceived as prison, not an entity that supports you and stands by you in the difficult moments. The traditions are all seen as the way to strangle an individual with more unnecessary expenses. Intelligence of the nation is seen as the way to quickly adjust to the economic growth in order to make more money.  I don’t think it is a true image of today’s India though and I am more inclined to think that it is the author of the book who wants to produce this impression.

When I was reading the book I recognized some of these tendencies I saw in my own country, the common greed, the desire to show off, to separate oneself from the rest of the group on the basis of material wealth, etc.

In a way I understand the author. I think that maybe if I were writing a book about today’s Russia I would try and pass on this pain we all feel about all of this negative reality. I think the author is also hurt by what he sees and makes a conscious effort to ignore the good things about India in order to make a point.

It is sad however that the book gives an impression as if all other values apart from the money-driven are non-existent in India. Since whenever I get into contact with the Indians I can see a nation of strong family values, rich culture, intelligent, extremely hardworking and skilled people. Everywhere you look you can see Indians working for big multi-national corporations, I would agree with the author who says they are the future.

Think this money-craze is taking over the world almost everywhere and it is the first thing that catches your eye when you look at the society at large especially in the countries going through some turbulent times.

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