Picks and Pans Review: A Tiger for Malgudi

updated 08/29/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/29/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by R.K. Narayan

Most of this novel is told from the viewpoint of an enormous Indian tiger who is captured after his mate and four cubs are killed by hunters. He is taken to a circus where, by starving him into submission and training him, the owner turns him into a star. A movie producer puts him in a film, but during the shooting the tiger becomes irritable and no one heeds his warning growls. After carefully retracting his claws, he accidentally knocks the circus owner's head off. It is from a holy man that the tiger later learns to think like a human being and to recall this story of his life. On one level, this is a satire of moviemaking, but it is also a fable, in the manner of the Kipling animal stories, about religion, greed and finding a way to live at peace with one's own nature. The tone is conversational, often even chatty, and the humor is broad. The author, who lives in Mysore, is widely admired in India. This is his 24th book and the 12th novel set in the imaginary Indian town of Malgudi. (Viking, $14.75)

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