Bring Your Questions for White Tiger Author Aravind Adiga
I recently had occasion to visit India for the first time to speak at a conference put on by the media conglomerate India Today. Sadly my visit was very short, just a toe-touch. Still, it was fascinating from start to finish. On the way over, one of the flight attendants told me she was using her down time in New Delhi to have a complete-body medical examination at Max Healthcare for about $350. Medical tourism in action. The final event of the conclave was a raucous Q&A between former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and an audience of Indian elites who weren’t buying his assertions that Pakistan has the potential to be a good neighbor.
My experience was heightened considerably by the book I was reading at the time, The White Tiger, by the young journalist Aravind Adiga. It is one of the most thrilling novels I’ve ever read: pungent, evocative, brutally depressing, outrageously funny.
It is a novel of class and caste, told from the lower ranks, in which misery and aspiration battle for supremacy. Along the way, you learn a great deal about modern India. I’ve also been reading two good non-fiction books about India: Maximum City, by Suketu Mehta, and Imagining India, by Nandan Nilekani. I would recommend both of them; but The White Tiger is an absolute must-read.
The book is a best-seller and has won awards including the 2008 Man Booker Prize. Writing for the Telegraph, Amrit Dhillon called it a “new departure in India by [its portrayal of] the emotions, sorrows, and aspirations of the hitherto invisible poor.” This portrayal has, not surprisingly, caused an uproar among Indians — as, more recently, Slumdog Millionaire did.
Adiga was born in Madras (now Chennai), and studied at Columbia and Oxford. He was a South Asia correspondent for TIME and has also been published in the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal. His second novel, Between the Assassinations, will be published in June.
Adiga has agreed to take questions from Freakonomics readers about The White Tiger, Indian society … or even Bollywood ad campaigns and autorickshaw pricing. So post your questions in the comments section below. As with past Q&A’s, we will post his answers here in a few days.
Addendum: Adiga answers your questions here.