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The White Tiger

by

The White Tiger Cover

ISBN13: 9781416562603
ISBN10: 1416562605
Condition: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

1. The author chose to tell the story from the provocative point of view of an exceedingly charming, egotistical admitted murderer. Do Balram's ambition and charisma make his vision clearer? More vivid? Did he win you over?

2. Why does Balram choose to address the Premier? What motivates him to tell his story? What similarities does he see between himself and the Premier?

3. Because of his lack of education, Ashok calls Balram "half-baked." What does he mean by this? How does Balram go about educating himself? What does he learn?

4. Balram variously describes himself as "a man of action and change," "a thinking man," "an entrepreneur," "a man who sees tomorrow," and a "murderer." Is any one of these labels the most fitting, or is he too complex for only one? How would you describe him?

5. Balram blames the culture of servitude in India for the stark contrasts between the Light and the Darkness and the antiquated mind set that slows change. Discuss his rooster coop analogy and the role of religion, the political system, and family life in perpetuating this culture. What do you make of the couplet Balram repeats to himself: "I was looking for the key for years / but the door was always open"?

6. Discuss Balram's opinion of his master and how it and their relationship evolve. Balram says "where my genuine concern for him ended and where my self-interest began, I could not tell" (160). Where do you think his self-interest begins?

7. Compare Ashok and his family's actions after Pinky Madam hits a child to Balram's response when his driver does. Were you surprised at the actions of either? How does Ashok and his family's morality compare to Balram's in respect to the accidents, and to other circumstances?

8. Discuss Balram's reasons for the murder: fulfilling his father's wish that his son "live like a man," taking back what Ashok had stolen from him, and breaking out of the rooster coop, among them. Which ring true to you and which do not? Did you feel Balram was justified in killing Ashok? Discuss the paradox inherent in the fact that in order to live fully as a man, Balram took a man's life.

9. Balram's thoughts of his family initially hold him back from killing Ashok. What changes his mind? Why do you think he goes back to retrieve Dharam at the end of the novel? Does his decision absolve him in any way?

10. The novel offers a window into the rapidly changing economic situation in India. What do we learn about entrepreneurship and Balram's definition of it?

11. The novel reveals an India that is as unforgiving as it is promising. Do you think of the novel, ultimately, as a cautionary tale or a hopeful one?

Further activities

The novel offers a perspective on modern India and how its economy is changing. Compare the fictional depiction in the book to nonfiction accounts; for further reading try In Spite of the Gods, Planet India, or The Elephant and the Dragon.

If you or your group has read other popular novels related to India, such as The Namesake, The Inheritance of Loss, or Brick Lane, discuss the characters and the similarities or differences you see in how the country is presented.

Have an Indian feast to accompany your book group discussion. Order from a local restaurant or try your hand at the recipes at www.indianfoodforever.com.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 14 comments:

Patusan, September 25, 2011 (view all comments by Patusan)
I hate to admit this, but I didn't even have White Tiger in the stack by my bed until my sister said the reliable readers in her book club loved it. A tragicomic view from the next-to-bottom rung of the globalized economic ladder. Not among the completely dispossessed, the main character is a survivor in the mass migration from the village to the metropolis. His first-person narrative fascinates us with detail and pains us with the narcissism of small differences as he unself-consciously aspires to advance in life while expressing his disdain for those above and below him. White Tiger gives that sense of universal humanity that the novel is the highest expression of.
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possumkid, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by possumkid)
Awesome black comedy of the way life is in India. For rolling around on the floor laughing and for insights into survival as an underdog on the sub-continent, this is THE book.
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Tori, July 15, 2010 (view all comments by Tori)
There is something about Balram that has stayed with me ever since I finished The White Tiger. He is at once abhorrent, disgusting, pitiable and yet somehow, I cheered him on every step of the way. I rejoiced for him, worried for him and felt like I was there with him when he commits his drastic act of defiance. I will not make excuses for him, but I will say that I forgave him entirely.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781416562603
Author:
Adiga, Aravind
Publisher:
Free Press
Author:
Mukherjee, Bharati
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - General
Subject:
Poor
Subject:
Businesspeople
Subject:
Mystery fiction
Subject:
Epistolary fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
The White Tiger, adiga, novel, Balram Halwai, India, caste, caste system, education, Indian business, outsourcing, booker prize, booker short list, service, servitude, indentured, Bangalore, contradictions and complications of Indian society
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
20081031
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 9.99 lb
Age Level:
Between 25 and 35. Complexion: Blackish. Face: Ova

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The White Tiger Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.95 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Free Press - English 9781416562603 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

A remarkable first novel, ingeniously written in the form of a letter to the Chinese premier soon to visit India, Adiga's dark yet witty debut brings to Western readers the tense drama of a developing country and a character caught up in corruption and class struggle.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "First-time author Adiga has created a memorable tale of one taxi driver's hellish experience in modern India. Told with close attention to detail, whether it be the vivid portrait of India he paints or the transformation of Balram Halwai into a bloodthirsty murderer, Adiga writes like a seasoned professional. John Lee delivers an absolutely stunning performance, reading with a realistic and unforced East Indian dialect. He brings the story to life, reading with passion and respect for Adiga's prose. Lee currently sits at the top of the professional narrator's ladder; an actor so gifted both in his delivery and expansive palette of vocal abilities that he makes it sound easy. A Free Press hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 14). (May)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Extraordinary and brilliant....Adiga is a real writer — that is to say, someone who forges an original voice and vision."
"Review" by , "Fierce and funny....A satire as sharp as it gets."
"Review" by , "An exhilarating, side-splitting account of India today, as well as an eloquent howl at her many injustices. Adiga enters the literary scene resplendent in battle dress and ready to conquer. Let us bow to him."
"Review" by , "Darkly comic....Balram's appealingly sardonic voice and acute observations of the social order are both winning and unsettling."
"Review" by , "This fast-moving novel, set in India, is being sold as a corrective to the glib, dreamy exoticism Western readers often get....If these are the hands that built India, their grandkids really are going to kick America's ass....BUY IT."
"Review" by , "Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger is one of the most powerful books I've read in decades. No hyperbole. This debut novel from an Indian journalist living in Mumbai hit me like a kick to the head — the same effect Richard Wright's Native Son and Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man had."
"Review" by , "There is a new Muse stalking global narrative: brown, angry, hilarious, half-educated, rustic-urban, iconoclastic, paan-spitting, word-smithing — and in the case of Aravind Adiga she hails from a town called Laxmangarh. This is the authentic voice of the Third World, like you've never heard it before. Adiga is a global Gorky, a modern Kipling who grew up, and grew up mad. The future of the novel lies here."
"Review" by , "Adiga's training as a journalist lends the immediacy of breaking news to his writing, but it is his richly detailed storytelling that will captivate his audience....The White Tiger echoes masterpieces of resistance and oppression (both The Jungle and Native Son come to mind)...[and] contains passages of startling beauty....A book that carefully balances fable and pure observation."
"Synopsis" by , The white tiger of this novel is Balram Halwai, a poor Indian villager whose great ambition leads him to the zenith of Indian business culture, the world of the Bangalore entrepreneur. On the occasion of the president of China’s impending trip to Bangalore, Balram writes a letter to him describing his transformation and his experience as driver and servant to a wealthy Indian family, which he thinks exemplifies the contradictions and complications of Indian society.

The White Tiger recalls The Death of Vishnu and Bangkok 8 in ambition, scope, and narrative genius, with a mischief and personality all its own. Amoral, irreverent, deeply endearing, and utterly contemporary, this novel is an international publishing sensation — and a startling, provocative debut.

"Synopsis" by ,
An ambitious small-town girl flees an arranged marriage and finds herself having all sorts of adventures — professional, social and sexual — in Bangalore.

"Synopsis" by , Anjali Boses prospects dont look great. Born into a traditional lower-middle‑class family, she lives in a backwater town with only an arranged marriage on the horizon. But her ambition, charm, and fluency in language do not go unnoticed by her charismatic and influential expat teacher Peter Champion. And champion her he does, both to powerful people who can help her along the way and to Anjali herself, stirring in her a desire to take charge of her own destiny. So she sets off to Bangalore, Indias fastest‑growing metropolis, and soon falls in with an audacious and ambitious crowd of young people, who have learned how to sound American by watching shows like Seinfeld in order to get jobs in call centers, where they quickly out‑earn their parents. And it is in this high‑tech city where Anjali — suddenly free of the confines of class, caste, and gender — is able to confront her past and reinvent herself. Of course, the seductive pull of life in the New India does not come without a dark side . . .
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