Before I write this “Between The Assassinations Book Review” (by Aravind Adiga), I just wanted to remind you, that I write these book reviews as someone who loves reading and who devours books. I will read anything and everything you give me and will usually enjoy it on some level. English Literature was never my strongest subject at school. But I know I like reading! (Yes, I am apologising for not writing cleverer stuff! Ha! For a clever review, head over to The Guardian).
I picked this book up at the school fair for 25p (as good as stealing in my eyes, really the school fair needs to up their prices). I liked the cover and I like books about different countries. I had no expectations.
The book is set between the 1984 assassination of Indira Gandhi and the killing in 1991 of her son – giving the book it’s title “Between The Assassinations”. However, the stories described within, feel like they could be set in any period of India.
The book starts with a “Guide Book like description” of an Indian city called Kittur and follows on to tell a story about young Muslim boy arriving in the city and finding work – later developing strong religious and cultural pride and how this affects his life. It then moves on to another part in the “Guide Book” and a story relating to a wealthy boy born of two casts and how this influences his life…. The reader is drawn into 7 such stories – from the poorest cart driver, to a factory owner dealing with corruption. All about ordinary “ordinary” people in a typical Indian city. The cast problems they face, the bleak future ahead.
I have to confess, that all of the stories are pretty miserable and have an air of hopelessness about them. But all the stories drew me in and I was left wanting to read on and hear about the next story.
Having visited India myself, it took me back to many different parts of my trip. As a tourist in India, you do get a little jaded by all the poverty and you start just accepting it as it is, almost ignoring it (on some level you have to, as it is overwhelming). This book is very poignant and makes you remember that these very poor people are individuals and how they are just trying to cope with a very harsh day to day life, complicated by the cast system, religion and politics. It took away some of my “tourists” blinkers.
Page turner: 8/10 (As it is almost a collection of short stories, it is easy to want to keep finishing the “current story that you are in”. But this has to be “your type of book” and if you are after a “light read or a thriller” then this isn’t for you.)
Story line: 8/10 (each story draws you in, wanting to read on. I think out of the 7 stories, there was only one that I wasn’t as drawn to.)
The ending: 8/10 (there are 7 endings and each ending, leaves you feeling a little wretched – but I guess that that shows that the stories are well written?)
I do highly recommend this book – think “Slumdog Millionaire” but without the happy ending and decide based on that whether this is a book for you!