he White Tiger
by Aravind Adiga
(Free Press, $24)
The novel that just won Britain’s Man Booker Prize “is one of the most powerful books I’ve read in decades,” said Deirdre Donahue in USA Today. Narrated by a Bangalore entrepreneur who reveals early on that he has murdered to get where he is, The White Tiger “hit me like a kick to the head.” Forget the polite tone of much recent Indian fiction. Think of low-born Balram Halwai as the second coming of a young Vito Corleone. The “great subject” of Aravind Adiga’s “caustically funny” debut is Balram’s struggle to overcome the urge to remain a docile member of the servant class, said Katherine A. Powers in The Boston Globe. It would be a thrilling tale about the corrupting nature of globalization and the crushing tyranny of India’s ancient caste system even if it weren’t also a chilling “story of a man’s soul.” Alas, the novel falls just shy of true greatness, said Tony D’Souza in The Washington Post. It arrives at one point at the brink of “deep Orwellian insight” only to retreat into mere black comedy.
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