Welcome to Kittur, India. 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 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 privileged schoolboy sets off an explosive in a Jesuit-school classroom in protest against casteism. 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.
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, showcases the most beloved aspects of Aravind Adiga's writing to brilliant effect and 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)
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1 . Adiga is good
Posted April 12, 2011 by Constant Reader , upstate NYExcellent book, fashioned as a set of short stories, each of which is able to stand on its own; together they form a finished, intense and fascinating portrait. Adiga is a superb writer; his work is both "a good read" and also good literature.
June 07, 2009
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