The Man Booker Prize for Fiction is a literary prize given to the best original English-language book written by an author from the Commonwealth of Nations or Ireland. This year’s winner is quite worth the honour and should be read by everyone. Adiga shares this honour with such auspicious past winners as Margaret Atwood, Yann Martel and Salman Rushdie. And winning an award of such international repute with your debut novel is no small feat.
The White Tiger follows the life of a young chauffeur in India, an experience that can be described at best as cruel and almost masochistic. Balram Halwai makes his way from rural India to become the driver for a wealthy family in Delhi. What first seems like a reprieve from his former hell quickly becomes far worse when he murders his employer who has ties to the Indian government. Much of the story is told through letters from Halwai to the premier of China.
The power of this story comes from the mirror it holds up to contemporary India. While most literature on India focuses on the past, Adiga sheds light on the misery that permeates the lives of the underprivileged in India today. It truly highlights the horrors visited on the poor by corruption, framed by India’s rise to a modern superpower on a global stage.