Sidharth Vardhan

Review of Man-Tiger

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(A review by Sidharth Vardhan of
Man Tiger (2004) by Eka Kurniawn
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Even if you leave alone magical realism, there is a hint of Marquez in this author’s prose. If that doesn’t sell the book, I don’t know what will. Just look at this:

“After two days in the hospital, Komar asked to be taken home and said firmly to Mameh, “Don’t call for any more doctors. I’m healthy enough to wait for my grave to be dug.”

“The city government was said to have given him a plot of land in the heroes’ cemetery as a reward for his service, something he described as an invitation to die quickly. “

eke kurniawan man tiger sidharth vardhan reviewThe references to classics and mythological tales celebrate storytelling traditions. In fact, the story itself is a retelling of an ancient myth.

The story itself, told in a non-linear manner and from a shifting point of view, though is very simple – that of two dysfunctional families. The tiger seemed to me no more than symbol of repressed anger of a kid over domestic violence (child becomes tiger the way Bruce becomes hulk) and mistreatment of his mother and about how hard and violent instincts of a community which has found peace after long period of violent disturbances and wars; find new ways to show up (animal hunting games, fighting games for youth, domestic violence). The post-war atmosphere shows up as a theme in many other ways (the retired major, rusted samurai swords, the army needing local criminals to have their fun with etc. )

Eka kurniwan sidharth vardhan man tiger
Eka Kurniwan

Another motif is people believing that things are coming out of them used to show people showing shock at themselves/ their own behavior (the way hulk refused to be identified with the other guy). While the tigress coming out of a man is an obvious example, the other example would be that of his sister:

Every morning her chest size seemed to have expanded overnight, a thought that sometimes made her wonder if a separate woman wasn’t starting to emerge from the teenage girl. ”

Other beautiful lines :

” It was almost dark when the sandy red soil finally covered him. The gravedigger slowly stepped on this soil, but didn’t make it too compact, as a mandatory precaution lest the dead should be resurrected. “

“He also had a feeling that the baby was a girl because, as people said, that’s how it is when a woman suddenly becomes exceptionally beautiful during pregnancy. “

– 30 November 2017

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