Selection Day: A Novel
Mohan Kumar, slum dweller and chutney salesman, is raising the best and second best cricket players in India, possibly the world. First, his eldest, Radha, and then his youngest, Manju, will be chosen to play cricket for India on their respective Selection Days. Mohan has a contract with Lord Subramanya, the god of cricket, so the boys can’t fail. The man strictly monitors his sons’ physical development and cricket training with weekly inspections of their bodies and mandatory practices. Each boy is forbidden to shave, learn to drive, or think about women. Mohan has planned for every contingency, except for his sons’ free will. Needless to say, Mohan soon learns that his plans are not his sons’.
Having no knowledge of cricket, I was worried that Selection Day would be a difficult read since the sport is central to the plot. While I did find the descriptions of the games incomprehensible, Adiga’s superlative talent with character development made cricket a side note to the fraught family relationships and uniquely complex characters. Talent scout, coach, financial backer, father, friend, girlfriend, and players have contradictory feelings for the game and for one another, making Selection Day a fascinating study of motivation, love, self-sacrifice, and personal growth.
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