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Circus has been a part of Indian lives for more than a century. But we seldom think about the time when the circus shifted from the foreign realm to the Indian picture. Irish Bandopdhyay, through his book Tiger Woman, tells the tale of the first Bengali circus.


” At once a riveting page-turner and an uncommon historical novel, Tiger Woman places this tragic love triangle in an era of patriotism, as the circus becomes a metaphor for a frustrated social revolution.”

The plot develops in different strata. It starts off with the life of Priyanath as well as the history of the people around him. His father’s gymnasium and foreign circuses steal the spotlight. The author slowly develops each character in a parallel track. The whole life of Priyanath is squeezed into a 256 paged book and hence some details are not given the deserved importance. The first half of the book is detailed and depicts every minute instance with due embellishments but towards the second half of the book, the plot is congested.  

Literary feast

If the book as a whole is taken, it is an excellent piece of literature that is equally entertaining, engaging, and informative. Hence the book never lets down the readers. The genre of the book has a niche reader base but the developmental details of the story make sure that all types of readers are hooked to the book.

‘Don’t be afraid, Sushila, Let Go. Let go at the end of the next swing.’ ‘Why should I be afraid? I know you’ll catch me, Priyababu.'”

The character 

Ganapati’s character, who eventually becomes a magician in Priyanath’s circus, is given Ample space in the beginning but towards the end, the character is flushed out in haste. Sushila is the title character but the disproportion of the romantic angle and that of the patriotic angle fails to give her character due recognition except in the last few chapters. So is Priyanath’s wife. The book is primarily written from Priyanath’s point of view. Even though the title character is a woman the book fails to portray the women’s strength or do any justice to women as a whole especially because the reality of Priyanath and Sushila is different.

“Anyone can get an animal to perform by scaring them. The tiger doesn’t love her. He is scared of her.”

The translator needs special mention. His choice of words is excellent and hence gives the book a special boost. Unlike many other translated books of late, Tiger Woman has the potential to be rated as one which is as good as the original or may be better.

Thanks, PanMacmillan for the review copy.
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