From the Booker Prize–winning author of The White Tiger, a novel about two brothers in a Mumbai slum who are raised by their obsessive father to become cricket stars, and whose coming of age threatens their relationship, future, and sense of themselves.
Selection Day, Mr. Adiga’s third novel, supplies further proof that his Booker Prize, won for The White Tiger in 2008, was no fluke. He is not merely a confident storyteller but also a thinker, a skeptic, a wily entertainer, a thorn in the side of orthodoxy and cant ... Mr. Adiga’s take on the world often makes you consider what the apocalypse might sound like as reported by the BBC’s Hindi service ... Mr. Adiga, who was born in India and attended Columbia and Oxford, again displays what might be his greatest gifts as a postcolonial novelist: His strong sense of how the world actually works, and his ability to climb inside the minds of characters from vastly different social strata ... Selection Day is not perfect. Its plot loses altitude on occasion...But I don’t come to novels for plot — or I rarely do, at any rate. What this novel offers is the sound of a serious and nervy writer working at near the top of his form.
Adiga’s wit and raw sympathy will carry uninitiated readers beyond their ignorance of cricket ... There’s nothing boring here, though. Adiga’s paragraphs bounce along like a ball hit hard down a dirt street. One gets the general direction, but the vectors of his story can change at any moment as we chase after these characters ... What’s uncomfortable about this story begins like an itch, but for a time, the zaniness of Adiga’s novel camouflages its darker themes ... Selection Day evolves into a bittersweet reflection on the limits of what we can select ... Adiga’s voice is so exuberant, his plotting so jaunty, that the sadness of this story feels as though it is accumulating just outside our peripheral vision.
Sadly, despite rich individual narratives, there is little time allowed to linger over star or bit player. In Adiga’s India of ancient rules and modern life, where nothing and everything is illegal, the cast of Indians, with their singular depravities, perversions, and fantasies, are folded into the stew of slum and cityscape at high speed. In pacing that seems more screenplay than novel, the story careens through domestic, street, and cricketing scenes like a cross between Danny Boyle’s Slum Dog Millionaire and Craig Gillespie’s Million Dollar Arm, to a raucous chorus made up of India’s police, small and large entrepreneurs, politicians, film stars, crows, pigeons, and vehicular traffic.