Man Tiger

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In a small village on the Indonesian coast, an old man named Anwar Sadat is brutally murdered. The killer is Margio, the young man who lives in a neighboring house. After his grandfather died, Margio received an exhilarating inheritance: possession by the spirit of a majestic but violent white tiger.

Though the murder sparks the plot of this short novel, most of its length explores the backstory of the characters populating Margio’s world — from his cruel father and withdrawn mother to the girl he loves but cannot be with. By unraveling the complicated events that led to Margio’s attack, Man Tiger constructs a compelling portrait of a fractured family.

Trigger warning for sexual assault and domestic violence.

“One by one other flowering plants arrived, while the allamanda and the golden dewdrops grew sturdier and greener. She planted jasmine by the kitchen wall, roses in four groups near the golden dewdrops, and then came the mussaenda. Globe amaranths thrived alongside the ditch flanking one side of the house. Lantana shrubs grew next to the terrace’s disintegrating wall. Wild lilies bloomed near the garbage hole, and from the tall old allamanda she took seeds and planted them in the eastern corner of the yard. They had the most extensive flower garden in the entire town, putting any flowershop to shame.”

Eka Kurniawan is an Indonesian writer; his works include short stories, novels, and nonfiction. Two of his novels, Man Tiger and Beauty is a Wound, have been translated into English.

Translated by: Labodalih Sembiring
Length: 172 pages
Set in: Indonesia