Synopses & Reviews
Welcome to Kittur, India. It's on India's southwestern coast, bounded by the Arabian Sea to the west and the Kaliamma River to the south and east. It's blessed with rich soil and scenic beauty, and it's been around for centuries. Of its 193,432 residents, only 89 declare themselves to be without religion or caste. And if the characters in Between the Assassinations are any indication, Kittur is an extraordinary crossroads of the brightest minds and the poorest morals, the up-and-coming and the downtrodden, and the poets and the prophets of an India that modern literature has rarely addressed.
A twelve-year-old boy named Ziauddin, a gofer at a tea shop near the railway station, is enticed into wrongdoing because a fair-skinned stranger treats him with dignity and warmth. George D'Souza, a mosquito-repellent sprayer, elevates himself to gardener and then chauffeur to the lovely, young Mrs. Gomes, and then loses it all when he attempts to be something more. A little girl's first act of love for her father is to beg on the street for money to support his drug habit. A factory owner is forced to choose between buying into underworld economics and blinding his staff or closing up shop. A privileged schoolboy, using his own ties to the Kittur underworld, sets off an explosive in a Jesuit-school classroom in protest against casteism. A childless couple takes refuge in a rapidly diminishing forest on the outskirts of town, feeding a group of intimates who visit only to mock them. And the loneliest member of the Marxist-Maoist Party of India falls in love with the one young woman, in the poorest part of town, whom he cannot afford to wed.
Between the Assassinations showcases the most beloved aspects of Adiga's writing to brilliant effect: the class struggle rendered personal; the fury of the underdog and the fire of the iconoclast; and the prodigiously ambitious narrative talent that has earned Adiga acclaim around the world and comparisons to Gogol, Ellison, Kipling, and Palahniuk. In the words of The Guardian (London), Between the Assassinations shows that Adiga...is one of the most important voices to emerge from India in recent years.
A blinding, brilliant, and brave mosaic of Indian life as it is lived in a place called Kittur, Between the Assassinations, with all the humor, sympathy, and unflinching candor of The White Tiger, enlarges our understanding of the world we live in today.
"This short story collection, teeming with life in the small Indian city of Kittur between the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984 and that of her son Rajiv in 1991, serves as a prelude to Adiga's Booker Prize winning The White Tiger. Loosely based on a tourist itinerary, the stories meander through the lives of a motley array of hoykas and Brahmins, Muslims and Christians. We meet Xerox, the peddler of illegally copied books who doesn't mind having been arrested 21 times, as this seems a step up from his father's work as an excrement shoveler. Then there is Jayamma: the eighth of nine daughters, she is sent out to work because her father had only enough money to marry off six daughters. Her only comfort is getting high on DDT fumes and rubbing the buttocks of a tiny idol of baby Krishna. Adiga's India is a place of wildly disparate fortunes, where a 500-rupee meal at the Oberoi Hotel in Bombay scandalizes a construction worker who marvels at the sight of a 20-rupee note. It's a gruesome picture of existence, and the small epiphanies hit like bricks from heaven. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[B]eguiling and often poignant work...deeply etched stories...powerful." India Abroad
"The book is a work of diverse voices...the stories are always lively and keenly observed; taken together, these rich slices of life form an enjoyable and readable whole." The Sunday Times
"A page-turner [with a] limber structure...It is Adiga's near-sightedness that brings his writing to life. His subject is the everyday frustration brought about by discriminations of status, class and religion. Yet his sense of a great Indian comedy is never far away." The Observer
"Adiga blends pure and profane into a marvelous journey through Kittur, a city as indomitable and complex as India itself...The writing is pitch-perfect." The San Francisco Chronicle
"It is difficult to build on a book as successful as The White Tiger
, which won the 2008 Booker Prize, and is a substantial addition to the canon of Indian diasporic writing. The White Tiger
is about a hyper-ambitious Indian driver who takes revenge on an unjust economic and political system. Set in the twenty-first century, it describes an India in the throes of globalization, amid the milieu of international call centers and falling bourgeois values.
Adiga has written not so much a follow-up as a shattering of the clear, one-sided lens through which we read The White Tiger
. Between the Assassinations
is less an expansion of novelistic possibility than a willful step back to explain the raw emotions that went into the earlier book. Where The White Tiger
is highly finished, voice-driven, and ferociously cogent and consistent, Between the Assassinations
is determinedly un-centered, resists completion, and lacks the idiosyncratic private voice that often characterizes the postcolonial novel now." Anis Shivani, Harvard Review Online (read the entire National Book Critic's Circle review)
The dazzling new book from the winner of the 2008 Man Booker Prize, Between the Assassinations brings to life a chorus of distinctive Indian voices, all inhabitants in the fictional town of Kittur.
About the Author
Aravind Adiga was born in India in 1974 and attended Columbia and Oxford universities. A former correspondent for Time magazine, he has also been published in the Financial Times. He lives in Mumbai, India.