Safety in numbers for Tiger pursuit
Today is adult book club day for July (The White Tiger). We'll have to see how the 7:00 discussion at the library goes, but the 2:00 Star Co. session could be accurately rated as a love fest for Aravind Adiga's memorable story of modern India. I first encountered the Tiger back in 2008 and have been agitating for others to read it ever since--because I almost didn't.
When choosing novels by Indian authors, I gravitate toward gentler historical novels or family sagas (David Davidar's House of Blue Mangoes, Padma Viswanathan's The Toss of a Lemon, anything by Jhumpa Lahiri). White Tiger's edgy premise and violent protagonist should have landed it squarely in Not My Kind of Book territory. Actually, that's why I selected it, and rarely has a reader been so amply rewarded for venturing beyond the comfort zone.
Fellow librarian blogger Nick DiMartino's characterization of The White Tiger as "a banquet of moral complexity that keeps the reader laughing and thinking long after it's finished" neatly sums up the book's appeal for me. Add to that Adiga's sly turns of phrase, as when he juxtaposes dissimilar elements, thus layering commentary over narration: "Lots of dust and policemen came into the village next morning."
Its book club duty done, my library copy of The White Tiger will be delivered back home so my husband can finish it; he was a little disconcerted to find it missing from his nightstand. Place a request on one of the library's volumes (they're all checked out today) or treat yourself to a purchase, and you'll understand why. Though you probably don't possess an over-the-top chandelier like the one illuminating the Tiger's narrator, you'll still be most reluctant to turn out your light before his tale is finished.