I have a friend, who when I first met him, seemed to only be able to read Booker Prize shortlist and winning books. Every reading group, when it came time for him to pick, he chose a Booker. Sometimes an Orange or a Whitbread prizewinner would sneak in but never a National Book Critics Circle or National Book Award winner. I felt his choices were downright un-American. But they were almost always good. One, The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga has stuck with me for years and on revisiting it for this review I realized how much I missed the first time I read it and how much this book rewards a second and third trip.
A sort of a murderous Indian Gatsby without the thwarted love and the faux polish, Balram Malwi is a poor man who does whatever he must in order to break out of the lowly social caste and appalling life into which he is born.