By: Sara Reinberg (10th Grade)
Typically, students dread assigned school readings. However, my World Literature class took a different approach, as we were introduced to the book The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga. The New York Times bestseller is an epistolary novel written from the perspective of Balram, a man trying to navigate his way through Indian society. Having recently finished the book, I think my classmates and I can agree that the book was surprisingly great.
When you first open the book, you will notice a letterhead addressed to the Premier of China from the protagonist Balram. The entire book is written in this letter format, with Balram narrating his life story and the social injustices he faced while living in India. From growing up in his poor little town to becoming a servant in the caste system, readers get a really cool first-hand experience of what it’s like in Indian society. While the topic may seem boring, Balram's casual writing and sarcastic tone make the story more engaging and creates the feeling that I was conversing with any regular Indian citizen.
One element of the story that I enjoyed was Balram introducing himself as a wanted man for murdering his master Ashok. He did not give much detail about his crime, so as we read through the book I could feel the suspense building of how he would do it. When Balram finally described the event, I was slightly disappointed, as it was not as dramatic as I had expected. However, it was still fun to see all the factors that lead him to this moment.
As for the protagonist himself, Balram was not my favorite character in the book. In the beginning of the story, I liked his dark humour and found it comical that he was able to describe his crime in such a nonchalant manner. Though as the book went on, we see how Balram starts to be corrupted by the world around him, which made me see him in a new light. However, it is difficult for me to pass judgment on him due to the difficult environment in which he lives.
I highly recommend the book to anyone who is interested in India or wants to read something suspenseful. Aravind Adiga did an incredible job of highlighting social injustices in India through Balram's life. This gives the reader a taste of what it is like in Indian society, which I very much enjoyed.