Tigers are synonymous with India to the point of boredom. It is my irrational rejection of tiger references in literature that led me to ignore The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga for years. Man Booker Prize winner? Meh, so what, I thought, it’s probably full of quaint stereotypes from cover to cover.
I’d forgotten about it entirely until a friend recently recommended it to me and then I happened to find a copy on my bookshelf (not by magic my sister must have bought it). Well, quite simply: I loved it. I loved the style of writing, the perspective it is written from, the observational humour is wicked and I loved reading about Delhi (currently my third home city).
The central character, Balram is the hero and villain in one and Aravind Adiga unravels and explains the essence of modern city life that once can only experience in India upon living there and really observing the environment. It is tragically brilliant, tragic because the story and experience Balram reveals is probably played out hundreds of millions of times every single day and for the foreseeable future.