A Tiger for Malgudi

by R. K. Narayan. Viking, $14.75. The narrator of this tale is Raja, who is eleven feet long. Impossible? Not at all. Raja is a tiger who suffers as many troubles as any human protagonist and is quite humanly puzzled by his predicaments. His adversities include a whip-wielding circus owner and a muddle-headed movie producer. The intervention of a saintly hermit saves him from utter disaster, but piety and vegetarianism are difficult for Raja to practice. The road to virtue is hard, and the destination unreachable. Mr. Narayan has not taken up tigers through any loss of interest in the oddities and follies of people. He offers, through Raja’s somewhat mystified eyes, splendid examples of both. The scene in which the citizens of Malgudi organize to evict Raja from the headmaster’s office is memorably hilarious.