Every few years the Booker Prize panel chooses an unexpected winner. With The White Tiger (Simon & Schuster, $14, paper; $24, hardcover), business-journalist-turned-novelist Aravind Adiga offers an unconventional get-rich-quick manual and guide to liberating the mind for the politically and economically oppressed lower-caste of India; his narrator’s insights are the ultimate appeal of this darkly honest tale of a self-made man. Born impoverished and therefore hungry, Balram Halwai has an eye for observing society and an ear for gossip, and he uses his resourcefulness to educate himself about the world and elevate himself in Indian business. Shrewdly sycophantic and connivingly opportunistic, Balram twists his way through corrupt and caste-driven Delhi. Is he amoral or merely adaptive in his quest for mental and economic freedom? Aravind Adiga offers a beguilingly seductive anti-hero for this new century of globalization.
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