The title of Adiga’s novel is quite intriguing: Between the Assassinations? Between which assassinations? But it’s really the cover of this novel that caught my attention. The bright yellow cover with pink font seems to even poke fun at the seriousness of the title.
The novel is set in Kittur, India, a city where only 89 of its 193,432 residents declare themselves to be without religion or caste. Introducing readers to a variety of characters through short stories, an unnamed, all-seeing narrator exposes these character’s daily struggles and the centuries-long conflicts between religions (Hindu and Muslim and Christian) and castes (Brahmins, Bunts, Hoykas, and Dalits). I’m going to stop my summary here as I went into it knowing even less than what I’ve already said.
The setting Adiga crafts was absolutely absorbing. I could literally feel the sweltering heat he describes and smell the stench of the garbage piling up in the streets. The filth – physical and metaphorical – angered me and I could feel everyone in the city’s blood boiling and seething with hatred under the surface.
He also managed to make me fall in love with all but a few of the characters he introduces over seven days. (Adiga says that the town’s richness demands a minimum stay of a week.) Some of the characters are the ones people would turn away from in either fear or shame at their condition, and yet Adiga forces us to all look at these people and see them as real.
I enjoyed this novel even if it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. You can bet I will picking up Adiga’s other novel for which he won the Man Booker Prize.
- Adiga, Aravind. Between the Assassinations. New York: Free Press, 2010. Originally published 2008. Print. 342 pgs. ISBN: 9781439153161. Source: Purchased.