Orion 5CDs £14.99
The White Tiger, By Aravind Adiga
The Man Booker winner's triumphant adaptation
Sunday 15 February 2009
Balran's India is full of cages. Prostitutes, whose golden hair is black at the roots, pose behind barred windows in brothels; in the markets, chickens flounder desperately on top of each other in crowded coops; in Delhi zoo, a rare white tiger prowls repeatedly along its bamboo wall, hypnotising itself into believing its imprisonment is tolerable. When it stops and stares directly at him, Balran, the hero of Aravind Adiga's accomplished and original first novel, swoons clean away. When he recovers, his destiny – and the bloody path he must follow – is clear.
On the page, this novel is a worthy winner of the Man Booker prize: a parable, a moral conundrum and a thriller. Yet it ups its game a thousandfold when read by the truly phenomenal Kerry Shale. It's near-impossible to believe that one person could bring a cast of magnificently various Indian voices so raucously to life. But he does. On they come, each immediately identifiable, laughing, shrieking, commanding and whispering into your ears, from Balran's ancient wily grandmother through to the high-ranking, corrupt politicians and policemen whose palms must be kept permanently and expensively greased, lest any one of a million dark secrets be allowed to seep out. It is a tour de force.
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant