288 Page Test (Match)
If you're a straight American male and you're going to tackle Aravind Adiga's new novel, Selection Day, you'll have to take a page out of Russell Ziskey's playbook from Stripes . . . the army recruiter asks him and his buddy John Winger if they're homosexuals and Ziskey famously replies: "No, but we are willing to learn"-- while you won't be completely in the dark, as the novel has themes that parallel the U.S. sporting world: the obsessiveness, the statistics, the extreme dedication, the overbearing father, the monetizing of something that should be fun, the byzantine system in which to discover and exploit talent, the depths of corruption and the heights of achievement-- you're going to experience all this through the lens of Indian cricket, an obscure sport with opaque rules; this makes many sporting scenes a challenge to envision (there are some cricket terms in the back, but they don't help much) and the book also explores India, mainly Mumbai, outside of cricket, and this is a foreign world for the two protagonists, brothers who have been groomed to be professional cricketers since their father's sperm met egg . . . things become even more challenging when Manju, the younger and more talented brother, has homosexual urges: this means one thing in blue state liberal modern America, and something completely different in modern India-- homosexuality is more complex, more taboo, and a more difficult path for a young person, especially a young person of cricketing prominence, to navigate . . . so I recommend this novel if you're "willing to learn," and I guarantee you'll learn a great deal (though I still don't understand the ins and outs of a cricket match, though I often watch folks play it in the parks near my home).