THE RIGHT READ

21

theSun ON WEDNESDAY | APRIL 6, 2016

King of the

BEST-SELLING BOOKS
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Non-Fiction

literary jungle

> Indonesian writer Eka Kurniawan’s novel Man Tiger
breaks new ground with a 2016 Man Booker nomination
BY BISSME S.

E

KA KURNIAWAN,
considered one of the
most exciting, edgy
writers in Indonesia,
recently saw his book Man Tiger
selected for the prestigious 2016
Man Booker International
awards, with industry peers
calling him the first Indonesian
author to be nominated.
The winner of the award will
be announced on May 16.
Man Tiger is a 2015 published
translation of Eka’s original
2004 novel Lelaki Harimau, his
second book after his landmark
debut, 2002’s Cantik Itu Luka.
He has since published
Seperti Dendam, Rindu Harus
Dibayar Tuntas (2014), and his
latest book, O (2016).
In an email interview with
theSun, Eka (below) recalled
how he found out about the
nomination. He says: “Some of
my friends texted me the good

news. But I didn’t get it.
“While waiting for my car
to be serviced, I realised my
mobile phone was full of missed
calls and messages. Many of
them were from journalists. I
spent the whole day answering
their questions.”
Eka (right) is extremely
grateful that people thought his
work was good enough to be
nominated. Most of the time, he
tries not think about the many
accolades he has received for
his books over the years.
Man Tiger begins with a
young man named Margio,
who violently murders Anwar
Sadat, the richest man in a
village. The story continues in
flashbacks, where the readers
learn that Margio hates his
father for abusing his mother.
He always had the desire to kill
his father, but never found the
courage to carry it out.
The novel also blends in
supernatural elements, where

2016 Man Booker Prize nominees
1. A General Theory of
Oblivion
Author: José Eduardo Agualusa
(Angola)
Translator: Daniel Hahn
2. The Story of the Lost Child
Author: Elena Ferrante (Italy)
Translator: Ann Goldstein
3. The Vegetarian
Author: Han Kang (South
Korea)
Translator: Deborah Smith
4. Mend the Living
Author: Maylis de Kerangal
(France)
Translator: Jessica Moore
5. Man Tiger
Author:
Eka
Kurniawan
(Indonesia)
Translator:
Labodalih
Sembiring
6. The Four Books
Author: Yan Lianke (China) &
Translator: Carlos Rojas
7. Tram 83
Author: Fiston Mwanza Mujila

(Democratic Republic of Congo/
Austria)
Translator: Roland Glasser
8. A Cup of Rage
Author: Raduan Nassar (Brazil)
Translator: Stefan Tobler
9. Ladivine
Author: Marie N. Diaye
(France)
Translator: Jordan Stump
10. Death By Water
Author : Kenzaburo Oe (Japan)
Translator: Deborah Boliner
Boem
11.White Hunger
Author : Aki Ollikainen
(Finland)
Translator: Emily Jeremiah &
Fleur Jeremiah
12. A Strangeness in My Mind
Author: Orhan Pamuk (Turkey)
Translator: Ekin Oklap
13. A Whole Life
Author:
Robert
Seethaler
(Austria)
Translator: Charlotte Collins

Margio believes a female white
tiger is living inside him.
The inspiration for this story
came when Eka heard about a
violent murder that took place
in his hometown years ago.
He wanted to write a fictional
novel about the murder, but
eventually abandoned the idea.
“Then, a friend told me
that he found a tiger in his
bedroom,” he says. “I do not
know whether my friend was
telling me the truth or if he was
pulling my leg. Oddly enough,
his confession got us talking
about the stories of mystical
white tigers we used to hear
about as kids.”
It was then that Eka decided
to revive his abandoned story,
and blended it with the supernatural element of a white tiger.
When asked if he still
believes in supernatural
elements, he says: “If I believe
in the supernatural, I have
to prove that it exists, and I
cannot do that.
“If I don’t believe in
supernatural, I still have to
prove it does not exist and I
can’t do that, either. I am a
skeptic but at the same time I
love mystery in everything.”
He says his grandmother
was the first person to expose
him to the art of storytelling.
She loved to narrate legends,
fairy tales and the history of the
village to him.
Another person who played
an important role in his love
for storytelling was a distant

relative, an old lady who lived
alone. Almost every evening, he
and the other children would
gather at her porch, where she
told them magical tales.
His father, a tailor and a
part-time English teacher,
also played a role in instilling
the love for stories in him. He
would bring back books for Eka
to read. From an ardent reader,
Eka showly progressed to
becoming a writer.
One of the changes he
loves to see taking place
in Indonesian literature is
an increase in Indonesian
readership.
“Indonesia has a big
population, but only a tiny
percentage of readers,” he
says. “We need to build
more libraries around the
archipelago.”
When asked if stories should
have messages that can change
the society for the better, Eka
answers: “Consciously or
unconsciously, a writer always
has messages in the stories. But
the writer must understand that
readers may interpret these
message differently [from the
original intent].
“The readers may not see
things the same way [as the
writer]. The writer has no
control over how his readers
would interpret his stories.”
But Eka strong believes a
story should not become a
sermon. “Once a story becomes
a sermon, the story is no longer
interesting.”

1. #88 LOVE LIFE VOL. 1
– Diana Rikasari
2. #88 LOVE LIFE VOL. 2
– Diana Rikasari
3. DREAM CITIES:
COLOURING FOR
MINDFULNESS
– Rosie Goodwin and
Alice Chadwick
4. REFLECTIONS OF A
MAN – Mr. Amari Soul
5. THE AMAZING BOOK IS
NOT ON FIRE – Dan
Howell and Phil Lester
6. THIS BOOK LOVES YOU
– PewDiePie
7. SECRET GARDEN: AN
INKY TREASURE HUNT
AND COLORING BOOK
– Johanna Basford
8. LOST OCEAN: AN INKY
ADVENTURE AND
COLORING BOOK FOR
ADULTS
– Johanna Basford
9. ENCHANTED FOREST:
AN INKY QUEST AND
COLORING BOOK
– Johanna Basford
10. WRECK THIS JOURNAL
EVERYWHERE
– Keri Smith

Fiction
1. MEMORIES – Lang Leav
2. A MALAYSIAN
RESTAURANT IN
LONDON – Tunku Halim
3. ME BEFORE YOU
– Jojo Moyes
4. ALL THE LIGHT WE
CANNOT SEE
– Anthony Doerr
5. THE GIRL ON THE
TRAIN – Paula Hawkins
6. THE SHOCK OF THE
FALL – Nathan Filer
7. SHOPAHOLIC TO THE
RESCUE
– Sophie Kinsella
8. AFTER YOU – Jojo Moyes
9. A BRIEF HISTORY OF
SEVEN KILLINGS
– Marlon James
10. MAKE ME – Lee Child

IN A CAPSULE

The Gun
X Author: Fuminori Nakamura
X Publisher: Soho Crime
X ISBN: 9781616955908
THE winner of the Shinco Prize for debut
fiction in 2002, this book was recently
translated from Japanese by Allison Markin
Powell. Author Nakamura
previously had two other
books translated – The Thief,
Evil and the Mask, and Last
Winter.
The Gun (original title Yu)
centres around a young man
called Nishikawa who stumbles
across a dead body and sees a
gun by its side. If he was a good
citizen, Nishikawa would have
called the cops and there would
be no novel.
But
Nishikawa
is
a
complicated man, and instead
of doing what is right, he makes

Sidney Sheldon’s Reckless
off with the gun and even tries to follow the
investigation into the man’s death.
Before long, Nishikawa starts fantasising
about killing a female stranger, with the gun.
A brief subplot of how he was raised in an
orphanage and being advised to meet his
dying biological father is not explored further.
Things only take a turn midway in
the book when he uses the gun to
put a badly injured cat out of its
misery.
The book is compelling and the
author sticks to the main plot
without meandering all over the
place. Nishikawa is a complex
character who seems to have no
control over his own life, and
carrying a loaded gun wherever
he goes makes him a ticking time
bomb. A good first effort by this
author who has since moved on to
bigger things. – S. Indra
Sathiabalan

X Author: Tilly Bagshawe
X Publisher: HarperCollins
X ISBN: 9780062204056
LIFE is unfair and Group 99 is out to do
something about it. Like modern day Robin
Hoods, they are a bunch of angry young men
who want wealth equality, and
to punish the greedy.
They are super smart, tech
savvy and well-funded. They are
highly organised. And they have
global reach as the public flock
to praise and support them ...
until things turned violent.
A British man they kidnapped
is executed, and the footage
shown worldwide. Now the
powers that be are scrambling
because Group 99 has another
hostage, American journalist
Hunter Drexel, and they are
afraid that he will be next.

The CIA and FBI are forced to work together
to rescue Drexel, but the maverick journalist
shocks his American rescuers by running away.
So when a certain Tracy Schmaltz is implicated
by Group 99, the CIA decides to get her on
board.
Tracy is a typical small town mum, who is
devoted to her son but what her
neighbours don’t know is that she
was once a notorious jewel thief and
con artist.
She doesn’t want to get involved
but one night, tragedy forces her
hand. With nothing left to lose, she
focuses on getting to the bottom
of things.
Reckless is fast paced and action
packed and it is often difficult to
put the book down. There are twists
and turns aplenty which serves to
keep you turning the pages.
A captivating read. – KK
Wong