Monday, September 21, 2015

Human Bestiality in one of Eka Kurniawan's novels - Lelaki Harimau (Man Tiger)


As he grows up to be a mature guy and leaving his adolescent, a man named Margio feels a tiger live inside his body. Facing the difficulties on his family-life has already been his 'routine' everyday, starting from the very beginning of his life. A father with a very bad attitude to be shown in front of his family, and the depression of her mother owing to the craziness of her husband.

Trying to escape from her depression, Margio's mother fearlessly starts an affair with one of her neighbor. Margio has a thought that his mother's affair is really based on a thing called love. Unfortunately, he was truly wrong. The man whom her mother desires much is in fact, more than a loser.

Due to his child-to-mother love, the tiger inside his body uncontrollably takes an action to kill the man in the cruelest way.


It's been so long since I read such a serious novel. Even though I had to spent my 7 days in a week to finish the book, I'd never be disappointed with this 190 pages-novel.

Why did I choose to read this book? The answer is quite simple. First of all, the synopsis written at the back cover of this novel is unique and interesting. Made me a bit curious to read the story as deeply as I can. Secondly, I thought that this novel isn't categorized as teenlit (a novel category that I used to read in high school) at all. Thirdly, I wanted to 'taste' a novel that somehow seem hard to understand. At least, it would make my brain work a bit harder to understand every single word in its every single paragraph. So finally, I decided to take this complicated-unpredictable Lelaki Harimau to be on my list. 

When my eyes and my brains attempted to know Eka's writing style from the very first page of this novel, I instantly felt tired. The language and the diction used seemed very conventional. Also the settings. There's no use of gadgets, but big screen at the field. The story mostly takes place in a village (mentioned on the novel as a city). And the period adopted to this novel is the time when a series called Cintaku di Kampus Biru was still booming. Hence, to finish this Eka's work, I know I should attempt to fit in his style of writing.

With its non-linear plot structure, and also with its complex narration, Lelaki Harimau was able to make me being drowned into the story. I felt like I was trapped in the area where I had to step forward and then step backward and in some other time, I had to step forward again until I reach the ending. Suprisingly, I didn't think it was like playing cat and mouse with the story, because Eka already set the plot carefully. The transition from one scene to another scene was totally smooth that I didn't realize at all. I found it clear when I got the conclusion that the beginning and the ending of the story was centered only on one incident, "the assasination done by Margio sadistically" —later, it's revealed that the tiger inside Margio's body who did it—.

I was so impressed with the sequence followed by another sequence in this story. All disappoinments, sadism, saddening situation, also misery and lust, seemed amazingly assimilated into one tragic life scene.

This novel, for me, completely represents the bestiality in human's life. A wild character that makes a person doing something beyond their sense. Like beasts, the human bestiality makes a human being unable to speak up what they're having in mind and ignoring their sagacity when an extreme desire comes. Lelaki Harimau proves that a human being which is known as the most dignified God's creature, can have an inhumanity side as well.

One more thing that I found in this novel, is that the only thing matters in one family's life will be determined by the leader of the family itself. Would he/she bring the family into a contented, or a dreadful ending?

With no regret, I must honestly say that this novel is really worth to read. By gathering its first page, we'll be invited to some other situations that we may never feel in our real life. There's no hustle and bustle, gadgets, etc. We'll be entering a life full of misery, sadness, and darkness. Yet full of surprise.

This book review is written to participate on #Reviews4Indonesia movement by & to support Indonesia as Frankfurt Book Fair’s Guest of Honour 2015

Read the Indonesian version here

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