My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Judul: Man Tiger
Penulis: Eka Kurniawan
Penerbit: Verso Books
Halaman: 172 halaman
Terbitan: September 2015
A wry, affecting tale set in a small town on the Indonesian coast, Man Tiger tells the story of two interlinked and tormented families and of Margio, a young man ordinary in all particulars except that he conceals within himself a supernatural female white tiger. The inequities and betrayals of family life coalesce around and torment this magical being. An explosive act of violence follows, and its mysterious cause is unraveled as events progress toward a heartbreaking revelation.
Lyrical and bawdy, experimental and political, this extraordinary novel announces the arrival of a powerful new voice on the global literary stage.
"Man Tiger" follows the story of Margio, a young man who lives in a village near the Indian Ocean. The story opens with the revelation of a murder Margio commited. A story of life full of hardship, heartbroken, and secrets in a small village soon follows.
I believe this is the second time that I read an English version of an Indonesian book without ever reading the original version. The first one was Saman by Ayu Utami.
On the evening Margio killed Anwar Sadat, Kyai Jahro was blissfully busy with his fishpond.
Ok, first the story. I like this kind of story. A mystery whydunit story with a pinch of supernatural and family problems. I like how Eka Kurniawan could intertwine the many characters storylines seamlessly. Everything that happened were interesting. From the opening line above to the revelation of the very last page of the story.
"It wasn't me," he said calmly and without guilt. "There is a tiger inside my body."
With all the love, so why only 3 stars? Well, first, that's because I felt something was lost along the translation. I haven't read the original version, so I don't know this for sure, but I feel like "Man Tiger" is the type of novel that would use a lot of local language (in this case, Javanese), to give a stronger taste of setting and atmosphere of the story. It's just something that Indonesian novels, especially if it's set in rural area, usually do.
Update: after reading the Indonesian version, I can confirm that Eka didn't use Javanese in the book.
Second, the ending. It was quite underwhelming. It wasn't bad, but I expected so much more.
All that remained was a precious lesson that love causes pain, and the conviction that it couldn't be otherwise.
Overall, I enjoyed the story. In the end, everything happens because Margio actually has so much love to his family. So much that it turns into something else, something darker.
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