Man Tiger by Eka Kurniawan was the first book I read in my journey to read the Man Booker International prize longlist. I thought that this would be a good endeavor for a couple of reasons. First, it’s become so obviously apparent that all of my thoughts and opinions are formed based on my limited experiences as a US citizen. I’ve spent my whole life in the United States, and although I have traveled to different countries and continents, my perspective is so grossly Westernized. While in college, I exclusively read BBC news in attempts to learn more about “world news,” but even that was insufficient. As the US is in full swing regarding its presidential election, I’m again reminded how biased all media coverage is, but specifically that in the US. So I hope to expand my world view a little more by reading books set in non-US (and often non-Western) settings.
Second, I was in a little bit of a YA k-hole. I didn’t read YA when I was a teenager. Harry Potter wasn’t even finished by the time I graduated high school. Last year I kind of really discovered this phenomenon. I’ve read a lot of YA books over the past year, and some of them have been excellent. But a lot of them have failed to challenge me intellectually or emotionally. So I thought it was about time I move my interests a little past YA into translated works.
Now that I’ve gotten all that nonsense out of the way – on to Man Tiger specifically! As I stated earlier this week, in my quick update, I think that this book was a solid three star read for me. The part that was most disappointing was the lack of story around Margio (the main character’s) affliction of having a Tiger live inside of him. At the end of the first “chapter” or story, you find out that he has a Tiger inside of him. But really that’s where the author’s coverage of the story stops. I’m not sure what this book is called in its original tongue, but I hope that title makes a little more sense than the English version.
I enjoyed how Man Tiger was broken up into chapters based on story. I also found the translation really excellent, because although the book sometimes switched POV and often switched between present, past and future, it was never confusing for me. I think that this is in stark contrast to Everything I Never Told You, which I thought was extremely confusing and annoying to follow. It’s unusual plot sometimes made it hard to become really invested in the book, but when I did sit down to read it I was always interested.
I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in translated works of fiction. I would also suggest that those who are doing the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, that this would be a cool book to fulfill the “book by an author from Southeast Asia” section.
Until Next Time World…