Selection Day by Aravind Adiga
I was a huge fan of Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger, so I was intrigued to hear that he’d released a new novel—and focused on cricket. I’ll confess that I know very little about cricket, and what little I do know is based on Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland. That said, you don’t really need to know a whole lot to get invested in the story. It’s an interesting contemporary tale, even if it doesn’t have quite the same original spark that fueled The White Tiger.
Selection Day focuses on a moment in time—Selection Day for the national cricket team. Radha and Manju are brothers whose father is absolutely convinced that Radha’s fate is to become a cricket star, with Manju’s talent an added bonus. He parlays his way into a contract for the boys’ training and gets them moved into a new house, in exchange for training with a renowned coach for a shot at professional cricket. Yet an unanticipated threat finds its way into their world: Javad Ansari, a Muslim Indian who can threaten their success at cricket. J.A.’s wealth and interest in Manju disrupts the equilibrium of the boys’ focus, and it changes the dynamic of the story. The boys’ relationship to
This story is interesting, but uneven in pace. There are many spots where you just don’t see much movement in plot, character, or introspection at all. There are interesting discussions of young male sexuality that I wish would have been explored much further and sooner in the novel. I think that Adiga is a talented writer, but you just don’t see the same kind of originality that you do in his earliest work. I hope he regains the spark that brought him to my attention.