Sharp observations bring a town to life

2009-10-28 00:00


Between the Assassinations

Aravind Adiga

Atlantic Books

ARAVIND Adiga won the Man Booker Prize last year with his ­debut novel, The White Tiger, and has now followed it up with another sharp set of observations of life in his native India. This time, he uses the tool of a collection of short stories, linked by time and place.

The place is the imaginary Indian town of Kittur and the time is a ­seven-day period, somewhere in the seven years between the assassinations of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi. And in that week, Adiga examines the lives of various Kittur inhabitants.

Most are disaffected: by poverty, failure, anger, teenage misfit angst, caste, religion, powerlessness, or by their own mistakes. But it is not by any means a series of tales of unrelieved gloom: Adiga has a powerful sense of humour which blends with the misery of some of the lives he depicts to create a bittersweet atmosphere.

There is the low caste but wealthy student who tries to take revenge on the society he feels is discriminating against him by blowing up his chemistry class, without conspicuous success, and the man who sells photocopied texts to students, but has his moment of glory when he sells The Satanic Verses.

The stories are divided by mock guide-book entries, the kind of thing familiar from Rough Guides or Lonely Planets, telling tourists what to look out for and describing neighbourhoods in terms that bear little relation to the lives of the people ­living there. Adiga’s cast of characters are good and bad, but most of them, like most of us, are part one and part the other.

There is no great plot to drive the book along, or any drawing together of the strands at the end. But even so, Between the Assassinations is a page turner. And by the end, the reader has come to know Kittur and its very human inhabitants.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.