SELECTION DAY by Aravind Adiga, Macmillan.
Some boys rise, some boys fall. That’s the mantra of talent-scout Tommy Sir, who scours the cricket fields of Mumbai each year for schoolboy recruits for the adult teams. His eye falls on teenage brothers living in the slums with their cricket-obsessed bully of a father who’s desperate for one, or both, to became “a Young Lion... the next Sachin”. Radha, the eldest and his father’s favourite, has the skill, style and looks of a prime contender but it’s young Manju the novel focuses on, a boy of huge potential but deep doubts, unsure whether he wants to be a cricket star or a scientist; who likes girls but is drawn to his brother’s chief rival, a gay, middle-class Muslim. The story of the boys’ rises and falls is also a story of modern India, which Adiga describes as having vaulted straight from potholed roads to post-capitalist decadence.