Selection Day, by Aravind Adiga. Published 2017 by Scribner. Literary Fiction.
As a big fan of Aravind Adiga's 2008 Booker Prize winning novel The White Tiger, I was really excited to get a hold of an early copy of his latest, Selection Day, and I didn't hesitate to read it. While I didn't think Selection Day has the same bite as Tiger, it's a worthy entry and well worth the time to read.
Set in contemporary India in the world, which I don't understand at all, of cricket, the book concerns two brothers and their ambitious father. Radha Kumar is the older brother, passionate for cricket and supremely gifted; Manju, the younger brother, is an up-and-comer who is good but not quite as good. And he idolizes his brother. Their father pushes them hard to become cricket stars and both boys resent him. Then Javed Ansari arrives on the scene- talented, Muslim, and handsome, he shakes Manju in ways he never expects and forces him to figure out who he wants to be, and who he is. As "selection day" nears, it becomes clear that only one brother will have the shot at stardom they are both told to want. The fallout from selection day will change the lives of not just the boys and their father, but the scouts, investors and friends who surround them.
I don't really know the first thing about cricket and I'm sure I missed a lot of fine points but I got the general gist of a sports-obsessed parent pushing his children, and ultimately pushing them away. For me certain swathes of the book moved slowly and while I'm glad I stuck with it, I almost didn't. That said, the book picks up momentum about 2/3 of the way through and from there until the end it doesn't let up. The action is all in the relationships between the three cricket players and how each one chooses a path.
Like I said for me it didn't have the kick of The White Tiger but I think Selection Day is a very strong novel, very well-written with great characters and a vivid setting which is immersive even if I didn't get every detail. I'd definitely recommend it to literary fiction readers and I think its emphasis on character growth would make it a great brainy book club pick. Check it out.
FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.