Winner of the 2016 Financial Times Emerging Voices Award, and longlisted for the 2016 Man Booker International Prize
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.
Kurniawan makes his U.S. debut with this novel, along with the tour-de-force epic Beauty Is a Wound, also being published this fall. Tragic and imaginative, the story begins with the murder of Anwar Sadat, a known womanizer in a rural Indonesian village. An angry young boar hunter named Margio initially confesses to the killing, and one of Anwar's daughters, Maesa Dewi, witnessed Margio at the scene of the crime. However, Major Sadrah, the town's only military commander, can't find a motive. When Sadrah speaks with Margio at the police station, Margio reveals that he is not the killer rather, Margio believes a ghostly ancestral tiger that lives inside his body committed the murder. Kurniawan is a sly raconteur, and the easy flow of his prose shines in Sembiring's translation. The narrative is told in a style that evokes oral storytelling traditions. It is conversational, cyclical, and tangential. The frequent digressions are used effectively for characterization and provide a larger understanding of the events leading to Anwar's death. The world Kurniawan invents is familiar and unexpected, incorporating mystery, magical realism, and folklore. Biting and beautiful, the book's mythical elements are grounded by grim accounts of Margio's troubled family and its abusive patriarch, Komar bin Syueb. This wild and enthralling novel manages to entertain while offering readers insight into the traditions of a little-known South East Asian culture. Kurniawan has officially put the West on notice.