The White Tiger

The White Tiger - Aravind Adiga

“Meet Balram Halwai, the ‘White Tiger’: servant, philosopher, entrepreneur, murderer…”

Balram Halwai is an Indian entrepreneur writing a very long letter to a premier in China, Mr. Wen Jiabao. Through the relation of his own story, rising from servant to businessman, Adiga’s satirical and witty narrative voice provides a fascinating insight into the underbelly of India. The narrator is brutal, smug and darkly funny and I loved the comparison between the rising economies and populations of China and India. Adiga has created a unique and pointed  look at the grim effects of a corrupt capitalist system.

Recommended for senior high school students, particularly if you need a related text for The Global Village or Navigating the Global. 3 1/2 stars.

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Life of Pi

Life of Pi - Yann Martel

“After the sinking of a cargo ship, a single solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the surface of the wild, blue Pacific. The crew of the surviving vessel consists of a hyena, an orang-utan, a zebra with a broken leg, a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger, and Pi Patel, a 16-year-old Indian boy. The stage is set for one of the most extraordinary pieces of fiction in recent years, a novel of such rare and wondrous storytelling that it may, as one character claims, make you believe in God. Can a reader reasonably ask for anything more?”

This book came at a defining point in my life. I read it as part of a Literature and Religion course as well as on recommendation. It’s timing was impeccable and it revealed a great deal to me. Some people find the first couple of chapters hard to engage with, but I would say don’t let that put you off. Once it gets going, the storytelling is vibrant and absorbing. It is like a contemporary fable that reveals ever present, but often unnoticed, universal truths about the human experience. It is poignant, spiritual and philosophical. It is a book for ‘deep’ readers, rewarding anyone who reads it in entirety. Life of Pi is a book, however, that must be read with the intention of getting something out of it, to be read for meaning and truth, that’s the best part about it.

Recommended for ages 16 and up, simple because it’s quite philosophical. 4 1/2 stars.