August 14, 2022



3 min read

GABY RUSLI WRITES (in an ongoing collection of Indonesian classics) — Each particular person has inside themselves a private ‘tiger,’ whether or not it’s vice, trauma, or an immoral act we bury inside us. We spend our lives attempting to subdue this tiger. Some achieve taming their tigers, whereas others are overcome by it. Mochtar Lubis proved by means of his basic work, Tiger! Tiger! (1991) that surrendering to the tiger inside ourselves will solely deliver us our downfall.

Writer Mochtar Lubis

Tiger! Tiger!  tells the story of seven males who labored as dammar collectors, a job gathering a sort of tree resin used for varnish obtained from the endemic jungle timber of Sumatra. These individuals discovered themselves stalked by a Sumatran tiger who sought to ravage them one after the other. Feeling defenseless and afraid of dying an excruciating loss of life, they flip to protecting talismans and the confession of their previous offenses, hoping the tiger will spare them. The concept the tiger was despatched by God to punish them causes every of them to spiral into insanity and switch in opposition to each other.

Lubis’ story was impressed by an in depth encounter with an actual tiger after discovering a well-built but deserted hut within the deep jungles of Sumatra. Considered one of Lubis’ hottest works was Twilight in Djakarta (1963) (see e-book overview), a narrative exposing the nepotistic and extremely corrupt elite and the passive students in Indonesian society. He was the primary Indonesian and one in every of solely three (to today) to have acquired the distinguished Magsaysay Award for Journalism and Literature. Lubis later returned the award in protest when leftist Pramoedya Ananta Toer was additionally granted the distinguished commendation.

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Tiger! Tiger! — 196 pages — $25 — Ishmael Tree

Going down within the immersive setting of the Sumatran jungle the place a ferocious tiger lurks, Tiger! Tiger! triggers deep self-reflection in its readers. Lubis conveys many concepts by means of his work, however essentially the most obvious is his psychological strategy to human nature. In bodily and religious kind, the wild animal symbolizes life’s trials and tribulations whereas concurrently additionally representing one’s deepest fears and regrets.

When the primary of the seven males is attacked, he turns into repentant of his sins. He additionally reveals one other man’s sins within the group with none warning. The remaining begin pondering of their private offenses, questioning if and when their sins might be unveiled. This creates a poisonous dynamic the place everyone seems to be attempting to fend for themselves. To have one’s vulnerabilities uncovered so brazenly and with out one’s alternative within the matter certainly is a disconcerting and threatening idea.

Mochtar Lubis condemns the charismatic chief archetype seen in politicians and shamans, each of that are authority figures in Indonesia. His prose factors out that black magic, charisma, or each won’t defend one within the occasion of imminent hazard, regardless of the illusions of safety that authority figures exude. Lubis reminds superstitious believers of the frailty of such strategies of safety, very like how a frontrunner akin to Soekarno, Indonesia’s first president after its independence from the Dutch, couldn’t use his glorified and feared aura of charisma and thriller to change into the chief Indonesia wanted. As an alternative, Soekarno was recognized to make choices in opposition to the Indonesian individuals’s finest curiosity.


One ought to learn Tiger! Tiger! with an open thoughts. With out it, the e-book will solely be misunderstood as a fictitious, unique story of a lush, jap panorama. Such a strong story was meant to be one man’s critique of the multi-faceted id of his nation and its individuals. The reader doesn’t need to share the identical values as Lubis to know his intentions and have fun his work. In any case, it’s by means of the change of various opinions that enable societies to advance into the longer term.


Ebook Reviewer, Gaby Rusli, is an LMU Worldwide Relations graduate and environmentalist who’s enthusiastic about Indonesian and Southeast Asian political affairs. 

Edited by e-book overview editor-in-chief, Ella Kelleher.

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