The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga: Book Cover Designs

The White Tiger’ was one random pick. Obviously, the ‘Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2008’ worked its charm though I had no clue about its author, Aravind Adiga. The cover also threw some doubts; it felt more like holding a graphic novel than a collection from the serious Booker Prize awarded types.

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

The black cover of my copy of the book takes the title literally and you read ‘The White Tiger’ in capital white fonts and the author’s name in orange. The cover with a caricatured tiger lurking at you alongside an equal sized rooster against what looks like red grass and the black background gives a feel of fun, dark satire to look forward to and the book delivers exactly that.

Indeed, the rooster and the white tiger are to be treated equal inside a coop – their capabilities indistinguishable and their fates preordained. The rich, the educated in India have an upper hand and perpetuate the vicious cycle of poverty. But, instead of saying this straightforwardly, the author tells us the story of a successful white tiger who could break free of the coop in a dark way.  

I found two other variants of this book cover, one in mauve and the other in white. The only image on this cover is of the car with orange tiger stripes. There are patterns adorning the edges and the ‘I’s’. As I opened ‘The White Tiger’, there was no looking back. I was speeding ahead, just like Balram Halwai was in his master’s Honda city driving through the busy roads of New Delhi. The car is an apt image to be on the cover, both literally and metaphorically.

The White Tiger is Balram Halwai’s narration of becoming a successful entrepreneur in Bangalore city, the technological and outsourcing hub of India. Balram Halwai was born in a small village in Bihar, he didn’t have the opportunities of education beyond the shabbily run village level Government School. Yet, the inspector who visited the school once recognized Balram Halwai as the white tiger, the rarest of the animal for his ability to read and write.  

Just like the funky cover, the structure is jazzy too. The entire narrative is built on the letters written by Balram Halwai to Wen Jiabao, the Chinese Premier who is about to visit Bangalore in a week as announced on the unreliable information source called the ‘All India Radio’. Balram has come to know that Wen Jiabao is on this visit to understand entrepreneurship in India. Balram feels the Chinese Premier ought to know his story. Now this could simply be a drunkard’s rant or hallucinations of a criminal writing an utterly superlative letter to the Chinese Premier. It becomes a brilliant premise for an extraordinary tale of satire and dark comedy.

Balram’s transformation is brought about by becoming a driver in a wealthy Urban Indian family. His stint as the driver at Ashok and Pinky’s household is the source of his modern wisdom on Indian society and his economic prosperity.

The rooster from the cover representative of the rooster coop is a metaphor used by Balram to describe the oppression of India’s poor to the Chinese Premier. Balram brings the common place scene of roosters in a coop at the market, watching one another getting slaughtered one by one, yet unable or unwilling to rebel and break out of the coop with the fate of Indian poor. There is also the resentment of the people at the lower economic levels who cannot see their peer from rising high in the economic ladder.

“The Rooster Coop was doing its work. Servants have to keep other servants from becoming innovators, experimenters, or entrepreneurs. Yes, that’s the sad truth, Mr. Premier. The coop is guarded from the inside.”

As an Indian, you can relate to everything that Aravind Adiga writes in this book, about both the rich and the poor. Is there something I didn’t know of, the exploitation and the systemic loopholes? No, I knew everything and still enjoyed reading every bit of Balram’s journey. Perhaps the cover is designed keeping in view this humorous satirical writing, instead of giving it a serious tone.

You can also read a book review of ‘The White Tiger’ here.

Thanks for being kind enough to read my posts, you can read through the series by clicking on the following links 


32 thoughts on “The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga: Book Cover Designs

  1. I have read this book like 8 years ago and I had borrowed it from someone.
    It was such a wonderful read.
    I loved how you have described its cover.
    I’ll purchase my own copy and read it again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was one of the first books I read when I was seeking out Booker winners and nominees. The Gathering by Anne Enright was another.

    I think I read the one with the white cover, but the top one you’ve used looks the best for the book’s tone and themes. Had heard that there’s a film adaptation on the way. I guess it would be interesting. I’d forgotten many things about this one, like the fact that Balram writes to the Chinese Premier. 🙂

    Oh, even if the book’s contents don’t surprise us as Indians, back when it arrived, there was a huge furore here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just read about ‘The Gathering’, this seems like an amazing book and I am anyways biased towards Irish writers.

      And, really the book created an uproar? I wonder why…every sentence in the book is like a mirror to what India is in every sense of the term.

      Thank you so much for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cheers to the newest addition to your TBR pile.

        Are you surprised that Indians didn’t like what the mirror showed? I remember reading about Satyajit Ray’s masterpiece Pather Panchali a couple of days back, on his birth/death anniversary. The film has its premiere in New York. Apparently, theatres and other decision-makers here felt that the film showed too much poverty. Then when it became a big hit in the West, it was released here too. PM Nehru and other leaders praised it. So, not a new thing for us.

        Liked by 1 person

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    • Exactly, once you start…you cannot put it down. After this book, every time I took Honda city, I couldn’t stop laughing thinking of traveling inside a dark egg.
      Thank you so much for stopping by!


    • I like the flow and the characters…I think as Indians, there isn’t anything new for us but the writing is what makes it unique. Though even I question if it was worthy of the Booker.
      Thank you so much for stopping by!


  5. Interesting.
    I like the third cover with the purple writing and the car drawn with tiger stripes.

    I hope you and yours are staying safe and healthy during this difficult time.

    J Lenni Dorner~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author

    Liked by 1 person

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