The White Tiger is a furious and brutally effective counterblast to smug “India is shining” rhetoric—that particular slogan is never mentioned, but the election it lost is crucial to the plot—which also directs hard, well-aimed kicks at hypocrisy and thuggery on the traditionalist Indian Left.
Halwai’s lesson in The White Tiger is that poverty creates monsters, and he himself is just such a monster.
There is much to commend in this novel, a witty parable of India’s changing society, yet there is much to ponder. The scales have fallen from the eyes of some Indian writers, many either living abroad, or educated there like Adiga.
Adiga’s India is a place of savagery and endemic corruption. Poverty is filth and servitude, neglect and anonymity. Nonetheless, The White Tiger is a rollicking rags to riches story told with dark wit.— Lily Power