Tag Archives: literature

Review: Man Tiger: A Novel

man tigerMan Tiger: A Novel by Eka Kurniawan
translated by Labodalih Sembiring
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher

I can no longer say that I speak Bahasa Indonesia fluently. I have an Aussie accent now though really, my Indonesian isn’t that bad! In any case, there are always certain things which do not ever translate well and it’s to my advantage that I can mix the two languages. I have, however, a keen interest in translated works especially from Bahasa Indonesia. This was the only basis I had as interest in Man Tiger and boy, I was blown away.

Man Tiger drew me in right from the very beginning and kept me in its grip all the way to the end. The mystery isn’t a whodunit but rather ‘whydunit’. I thought this was a rather a fresh proposal but since I already know who, it might rather be difficult to keep me interested but I was kept spellbound through to the end of the book. The story of the town and of Margio and his family fascinated me with their brokenness, their zest for life, and most of all, their passions.

There were a few things, translation-wise, which threw me off. I think sometimes, you just cannot translate certain things especially when it is a native food with no western world equivalent. It just didn’t sound right. I was also surprised at the sexual content and thought that I probably would not like it if I was reading the book in its original language. For some reason, sexual scenes just sound rather vulgar in Indonesian. A week later, I read an interview of the author, Eka Kurniawan, who stated this exact same thought! Nevertheless, I’m looking to source this when I go overseas next month.

Overall, I found the novel to be reminiscent of Haruki Murakami‘s. The magical realism aspect of the novel was slightly similar to Murakami’s works though the strange factor is not quite at the same level. The ending, I feel, could be Murakami too… It was so abrupt though I really could not imagine what else there is to be so really it was abrupt but perfect.

Man Tiger is a very passionate tale –Passion which drives us to live, to feel, to need, and even drive us crazy. I’m a huge fan of Murakami and I believe, Eka Kurniawan belongs on the same spot in my heart. If you’re a fan of Murakami, I don’t think you’d be disappointed with Man Tiger.

Thanks Verso Books (US) via NetGalley for eARC in exchange of honest review

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Review: Someone

someone - alice mcdermottSomeone by Alice McDermott

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Source: Borrowed copy

Another book I’ve picked up for a challenge where it’s required for a book to have been nominated for an award but hasn’t won any. So, really, there should be some merit to this book to have been nominated, right? I can sort of see some parts of where the book merited nominations and yet, it is missing just that extra twist or punch to the gut to win.

As most reviews have said it and I’ve to agree, this is a novel where a lot of things happened but nothing’s actually happened. It is exactly as per the blurb; “Scattered recollections—of childhood, adolescence, motherhood, old age”. To begin with, the jumps between time was a little jarring though you’ll soon get used to it. Whatever happened in this book is just life; everyday life – the good and the bad, all mixed up.

Overall, Someone was quite an easy read though unfortunately, not really memorable. Marie’s life was pretty ordinary, in fact, it is probably this ordinariness that readers may find the connection with the book though that is not the reason why most of us turn to books! It was so ordinary that I wasn’t even sure when she found love and then marriage, whether she has found ‘love’ –the romantic love that we would usually gush over in books. And yet, the practical side of me would chime in that first love or romantic love just isn’t all life’s about.

”It was not that life was less valuable to me now that I had glimpsed what it would be like to lose it. My love for the child asleep in the crib, the child’s need for me, for my vigilance, had made my life valuable in a way that even the most abundantly offered love, my parents’, my brother’s, even Tom’s, had failed to do. Love was required of me now – to be given, not merely to be sought and returned. My presence on earth was never more urgently needed. And yet even the certainty of that fact seemed reason to throw away caution, not to heed it.”

A perfectly ordinary life in recollections –recollections I could imagine my old self will go through one day… not exactly the same but similar enough. A quick read though I couldn’t imagine who I’d recommend this one to. Maybe when we’re older…

”Gabe sat at our older son’s place. His manners, as always, were meticulous and elegant. They had been meant, after all, to belong to a bishop. Watching him at my table, I briefly entertained the notion that the lace-curtain pretensions my parents had taught us might well have been meant as a way (frail at best, but a way nonetheless) of cosseting, corralling, patting down, and holding in, whatever it was that had undone him last summer.”

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