Tiger Eats Grass, Goat Eats Meat | Rajan Jayabalan | Book Review

Tiger Eats Grass, Goat Eats Meat

THEME: 3.5/5

My Musings

For some reason, short stories have alwaysbeen one of my favourite genres. The reasons can be many but the best I can think of is this one – a short story is short, complete, often uncomplicated and more time efficient. Why read a bunch of novels when you can read multiple stories in the length of one? Now, I am sure the logic doesn’t appeal to every reader but to each their own.

In the last few months, I had the pleasure of reading a couple of brilliant short story collections. The Goat Thief by Perumal Murugan, A Song of Many Rivers and Owls in the Family by Ruskin Bond, and Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini are a few of the many that I have cherished in the year that is fast approaching its end.

Recently, I got the opportunity to read and review another exciting short story collection. Read on to know my thoughts about Tiger Eats Grass, Goat Eats Meat.

What is the book all about?

As you must have already understood, Tiger Eats Grass, Goat Eats Meat is a collection of 5 short stories each 15 to 30 pages in length and each exploring the theme of poverty and struggles of the downtrodden.

Almost all of the stories are based in the southern part of India mainly in the states of Telangana and Tamil Nadu.

All of the stories talk about different things and issues yet they are united in their underlying theme – the poor always work the hardest and suffer the most.

Cover, font style and size and general readability

All the physical attributes that play an important role in catching the reader’s eye are just perfect when it comes to this book. Tiger Eats Grass, Goat Eats Meat has a stimulating cover and the cover picture and font are in perfect sync with each other.

Inside, the paper quality is excellent and the font style is appealing to the eye. Overall, the ease of readability is very high in this book.

My absolute favorite

Though most of the stories caught my fancy, one that particularly appealed to me was the last one in the book.

This short story titled The Stolen Gift talks about how the poor arrive in cities (Chennai in this case) from villages in search of bread and employment. When they can’t afford housing, which seems pretty expensive as compared to their meagre salaries/earnings, they make do with makeshift living spaces under the city’s many flyovers and bridges.

This story is of one such family that strives on despite the harsh circumstances and the constant noise and bickering traffic. They battle the wind and the rain and the harsh heat and yet, they live in hope of a better future. Until one day, there is a theft. Somebody steals their most prized possession.

What did I not like?

What makes the book boring and dull is the amateurish writing. There is clearly a need for the author to work on his writing style which lacks the finesse and charm of an experienced writer.

Besides, what annoys me the most as a reader are the highly unrealistic conversations many of the characters have with each other. When it comes to narratives and dialogues there are two quotes which have always summed up the way I feel about an author’s writing style – “Beauty lies in simplicity” and “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.

In Tiger Eats Grass, Goat Eats Meat, many times, the characters have conversations which are hard to believe and too unrealistic for me to digest. Why not let simple conversations be just that – Simple conversations? Why turn them into fancy speeches?

Great writing is knowing when to scale down and this book seems to be missing this point by a wide margin.

What I absolutely loved?

The best thing about the book is its stories. The subject and themes that they explore, the much neglected and downtrodden people of the society that they talk about and bring to limelight.

These stories are the ones that often do not find a voice strong enough to rise over the din caused by the decadence of the rich and the self-righteousness of the middle class.

Amongst those who live in luxury and those who reside in comfort, it is the ones that live for the next meal whose stories are often forgotten or often concealed. To bring their plight to the readers in the form of such simple and heart rendering stories was indeed a great initiative by the author.

It all boils down to the entertainment quotient

In the end, it all boils down to the entertainment quotient. The reader’s gain and the author’s pain – all of it can be summed up in just one simple number.

When it comes to entertainment, Tiger Eats Grass, Goat Eats Meat does have interesting stories to tell, however, the writing makes it a bit difficult for the reader to enjoy such heartfelt and simple stories.

Pick up the book if

  • You love short stories.
  • You don’t mind clumsy writing.
  • You love to read stories with a social message.

Skip the book if

  • You don’t like short stories.
  • You don’t like amateurish writing.

Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of Tiger Eats Grass, Goat Eats Meat using the link below.


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