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The Night Tiger: A Novel by Yangsze Choo

The Night Tiger: A Novel (edition 2019)

by Yangsze Choo (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3481449,269 (3.83)14
"Quick-witted, ambitious Ji Lin is stuck as an apprentice dressmaker, moonlighting as a dancehall girl to help pay off her mother's Mahjong debts. But when one of her dance partners accidentally leaves behind a gruesome souvenir, Ji Lin may finally get the adventure she has been longing for. Eleven-year-old houseboy Ren is also on a mission, racing to fulfill his former master's dying wish: that Ren find the man's finger, lost years ago in an accident, and bury it with his body. Ren has 49 days to do so, or his master's soul will wander the earth forever. As the days tick relentlessly by, a series of unexplained deaths wracks the district, along with whispers of men who turn into tigers. Ji Lin and Ren's increasingly dangerous paths crisscross through lush plantations, hospital storage rooms, and ghostly dreamscapes. Yangsze Choo's The Night Tiger pulls us into a world of servants and masters, age-old superstition and modern idealism, sibling rivalry and forbidden love. But anchoring this dazzling, propulsive novel is the intimate coming of age of a child and a young woman, each searching for their place in a society that would rather they stay invisible." -- Amazon.… (more)
Title:The Night Tiger: A Novel
Authors:Yangsze Choo (Author)
Info:Flatiron Books (2019), Edition: First Edition, Second Printing, 384 pages
Collections:2019 reads, Your library

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The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo



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From her biography on Amazon's product page: “Yangsze loves to eat and read, and often does both at the same time.” A woman after my own heart. And so was her book. Set in the British Malaya of 1939, a severed finger becomes central to the story. But this is a story about much more. It's about myths and superstitions and clashing cultures. It's about men who turn into tigers and tigers who turn into men. It's about personal discovery, family good and bad, cultural constraints. But mostly it's about the characters, good and bad but mostly a combination of the two.

The setting and writing is lush. I could connect with characters whose (fictional) lives were so different from mine. There were bad things that happened and in sometimes gruesome ways, but the gore was not overplayed nor overly graphic. There was magic realism. However, don't expect all loose ends to be tied up at the end. Some were, some were left to your imagination. This is one of those books I'll think about long after I finished it.

I borrowed an audio copy from my local library. It was very well read by the author. ( )
  TooBusyReading | Jul 20, 2019 |
I quite enjoyed the story. It was engaging and a lot was based on Malaysian culture, traditions, and superstitions.
( )
  ygifford | Jul 8, 2019 |
What a wonderful story! Set in Malaysia, this story interweaves western science with eastern mysticism, the living and the dead, tradition and breaking with it. Loyalty and honorable behavior knock heads with passion. Mysterious occurrences lead a delightful range of characters to stretch their beliefs and to fight for what matters to them. I became more and more engrossed and enchanted as I read, and really liked the ending. Excellent read! ( )
  hemlokgang | Jun 28, 2019 |
The setting is 1930's Colonial Malaysia, a world of servants and masters. There is a lot going on in this novel. Men who turn into tigers, age-old superstitions, modern idealism, sibling rivalry and forbidden love. 11 year-old, Ren, must fulfill his dead master's last request of finding his severed finger and bury it with his body. Ji Lin is a dance-hall girl who came upon the gruesome souvenir from one of her dance partner. How the finger finally gets to the grave is one of the plots in this complicated story. I found that I had to suspend my beliefs in order to get through this book. Basically, you just need to read the book and find out in the end what is really going on. The characters were well-developed and the plot was suspenseful. I would love to read the first novel of Yangsze Choo because I find the Chinese authors with all the superstitions fascinating. I would recommend this novel to those who love mystical realism. ( )
  EadieB | Jun 21, 2019 |
When you are dead, I will find your missing finger.
Oh my lord this book is dumb.

Ren has forty-nine days to find his dead master’s long-ago amputated finger and bury it in his master’s grave, or else his master’s soul will never rest. Meanwhile, Ji Lin, a dance hall girl, is haunted by dreams of Ren’s dead twin brother.

I would not have finished The Night Tiger if my office book club wasn’t reading it. Let me put it this way: the author’s previous book made Oprah’s Book Club, which says an awful lot.

In all fairness, The Night Tiger has a lot going for it initially. Ren’s gruesome quest is a pretty interesting mission, and the time limit raises the stakes. I enjoyed the infusion of Chinese and Malay folklore and tradition, which is a nice changeup from books about white people being white.

But this book was so dumb it hurt me a little. Ren’s quest for the missing finger gets resolved fairly quickly, but then he holds onto said finger for ages and ages instead of burying the damn thing in his master’s grave like he’s supposed to. Then he passes the finger back to Ji Lin with the instructions to bury the frickin thing immediately, and she holds onto it for ages and ages too. The abrupt resolution of the missing finger quest instantly made the book quite dull, and the much lofted forty-nine day time limit only came down to the wire because this book’s characters are even dumber than the book is.

The dynamic between Ji Lin and Shin is an unlikable disaster. They constantly snipe at each other and are often quite cruel and rude to one another, and then abruptly make up with no resolution whatsoever because they dislike extended fights. Not to mention the hotel scene is incredibly awkward and disturbing to read as Shin literally begs Ji Lin to pleasepleaseprettyplease have sex with him so that she can “be mine” and no longer be an object of attraction to any other male suitors. This is not a duo I can find myself rooting for.

There’s a lot of side plots, most of which are set up to provide the main characters with obstacles to deal with (since the interesting plot is solved so quickly). I have no idea how Ji Lin can get away with missing her job and her apprenticeship so frequently, but whatever. The dream sequences also drag, which is unfortunate since there’s a lot of dream sequences. (Also, just being a butt here but train metaphors for death are so overdone and need to be retired. Why can’t bungee jumping be a metaphor for death? Or unicycles?)

The Night Tiger is at best unremarkable and at worst a true slog through literary mud. Oprah has bad taste in books. ( )
  miri12 | May 31, 2019 |
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This book is for my father and mother, who were born and grew up in the Kinta Valley.
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The old man is dying.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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