The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Balram Halwai grew up as just a poor boy living in a rural Indian village with his large family but he soon grows tired of the poverty, tradition, and disease of his hometown and relocates to New Delhi where he finds work as a chauffeur for a wealthy businessman. In his new job he experiences classism and corruption as never before and after his master forces Balram to take responsibility for a death he didn’t cause, he quickly turns bitter and disillusioned. Balram commits a horrible crime and flees to Bangalore, where he creates a new life for himself.
The novel provides an honest and realistic view of the brutalities of the class struggle in modern-day India. The author’s dark humor, frankness, and vivid descriptions of Balram’s adventures make this book an entertaining and enlightening read that taught me more about everyday life in India than anything else. Though it did take a little while for the storyline to get going, once it did I quite literally could not put it down. The White Tiger is playful and sarcastic with serious topics but overall informative and eye-opening: a must-read for anyone interested in learning about India’s role as a nation steeped in the traditional caste system while trying to find its place in a globalized world.
If you are interested about learning more about life in the poorest parts of Southeast Asia, check out Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo and Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai.