Between the assassinations

by Aravind Adiga

Paper Book, 2008




London : Picador, 2008


In this short story collection set in the Indian city of Kittur sometime between the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984 and that of her son Rajiv in 1991, Adiga creates a cast of characters--from a twelve-year old boy to a Marxist-Maoist Party member--who are immersed in class struggles and their own personal denouements.

User reviews

LibraryThing member bcquinnsmom
The title of "Between the Assassinations" refers to the seven-year period between 1984 -- when Indira Gandhi was assassinated -- and 1991 when her son Rajiv was also killed. Set in India, the book captures a cross-spectrum view of life in a town called Kittur, where the characters include a drug
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addict's chldren who have to beg to keep up their father's habit; a 29 year old furniture delivery man who realizes that this is his life; a servant to a wealthy man who has no control over her own life; factory owners and workers; a student who explodes a bomb at his school in protest of caste distinction; a boy whose one ambition is to become a bus conductor, along with many more. The book is set up so that each story fits into a fake guidebook for tourists who might wish to visit Kittur.

Between the Assassinations looks at class and caste, poverty, corruption, politics, moral bankruptcy, and the overpowering awareness by many that change is not coming around any too soon. It is a sad but touching book, one that haunts you for a while after you've finished it.

The tourist guidebook setting works well -- the reader sees the city of Kittur as it could and should be, but once you get into the individual stories, the reader gets into the reality and hopelessness of the situation of many of the people who live there. Some of the stories work very well, but there are some that kind of wind down and just get strange so that you're left on your own to figure out what's just happened and why. This is definitely a book demanding reader participation.

The reader is left to decide whether or not there is hope for the characters in this book, and for India overall. Some of the characters realize that their situation is untenable and have hope for the future, while some (such as the servant, Jayamma) hope that the next life in the cycle of reincarnation will be better. Some know that this is it, and that they are locked in to their lives due to their station in life. Some struggle with their demons while trying to maintain the basic element of humanity and morality in their lives. In the meantime, life goes on, at least until someone comes up with a solution.

Bleak, yes, but very realistic in tone. Adiga's writing is excellent. I would recommend this book for people who do not mind a) having to put some thought and time into these stories and b) reading a book that leaves no room for warm and fuzzy feelings anywhere. Not all literature has to have a happy ending, because, well, in life sometimes there is no such thing.
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LibraryThing member ini_ya
Character sketches type short stories on a small town. Very well written.
LibraryThing member speciallisa
i must say i was really dissapointed with this book and felt my mind wondering off of it for most of the time! it is such a shame as i read the white tiger and thought that was a brilliant read.
LibraryThing member shushokan
This is essentially a collection of short stories set in the town of Kittur. The author paints his characters with a fine brush, you can feel the heat, the flies and the smell. It is however only a collection of vignettes and I feel that it would have benefitted from a narrative flowing through the
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book. Some might say that there indeed is, be it entrapment, segregation, discrimination or injustice but it is left to the reader to notice the similarities. All in all I was left feeling slightly let down despite having enjoyed the journey to the end.
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LibraryThing member Gary10
Honest, gritty, cleverly interlinked series of stories about a relatively small and isolated city in India during the 1980s. Each chapter tells a different story and in some cases the locations and even the plots are interlinked. Great insights into the religious, linguistic and cultural polyglot
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that is contemporary India.
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LibraryThing member nx74defiant
Unrelenting poverty and corruption. None of the stories have a happy ending. Things go right for one character and he blows it. Depressing. though it was funny that the one woman thought if she lived a bad enough life she would come back as a Christian.
LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
Between the Assassinations is a series of connected short stories that take place over the course of one week in Kittur, India. The stories focus mainly on the poor of Kittur, their perceptions of the caste system and how they survive their lot in life. Some face it with hatred and revenge, as does
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Shankara in "Day Two (Afternoon): St. Alfonso's Boys' High School and Junior College" (49). Some recognize family and the act of sticking together as being the only option like Keshava and Vittal in the beginning of ""Day Two (Evening: Market and Maidan" (p 107). Others are constantly scheming like George in "Day Five ( Evening): The Cathedral of Our Lady of Valencia" ( p 243). Be forewarned, most of the stories are desperate and all leave a chill in the air.
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LibraryThing member PilgrimJess
"Let animals live like animals; let humans live like humans."

'Between the Assassinations' is a collection of 14 short stories set in the fictional coastal town of Kittur in India and take place over a period of seven days. The title refers to the period between the assassinations of Indira Gandhi
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and her son Rajiv in 1984 and 1991 respectively but I am fairly sure would still be relevant today, as one of the characters says, "nothing ever changes. Nothing will ever change."

Each story is preceded by a short tourist guide depiction of a section of the fictional town. The blandness of these short sections provide an interesting relief from the main stories which look at the urban underbelly of India and feature characters from a wide social and economic spectrum ranging from upper-caste bankers and an idealist capitalist sweatshop owner, Christian headmasters to lower-caste rickshaw pullers and Muslim tea boys. Each character and each echelon of Indian society are given a human face.

Social injustice and poverty is central to each story as Adiga maps his character's aspirations and anxieties. Each have deeply felt longings but ultimately must accept that life will not change.

I enjoyed Adiga's writing style and these vignettes of Indian urban life are interesting if not particularly surprising. Generally I felt that the individual chapters worked well as a collection but as individual stories they are a mixed bag. Some I really enjoyed whilst I felt others were not of the same standard. Overall I found this an interesting if unspectacular read.
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LibraryThing member soylentgreen23
'The White Tiger' was a great book; 'Between the Assassinations' is an even more profound work, and one that I would call a masterpiece. It is a collection of tales set in the fictitious Indian town of Kittur (there is a real Kittur, but the real town is not on the coast), with the occasional
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overlap of characters a la 'Winesburg, Ohio.' Every aspect of life in the town is examined with honest bravery by Aravind Adiga; the corruption and misery of a life of poverty comes through clearly, though you find yourself sympathising with even the worst of the rogues in this book.
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LibraryThing member mojacobs
A collection of short stories from the city of Kittur. All with vividly drawn characters, expertly told, all engrossing - and painful.


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