Between the Assasinations : Review
Between the Assassinations is the second book by Arvind Adiga,after the Man Booker winning The White Tiger.
It is basically a collection of short stories of people living in Kittur,a small town on India’s south-western coast.Although the book follows The White Tiger,it was written before it.The book glistens with the beauty of rural, coastal India where is is set.The two assassinations in the title refer to the assassinations of Indira Gandhi(1984) and Rajiv Gandhi(1991).Adiga makes a microscopic examination of the town,the diversity of caste,language,religion,and the heirarchy between them,and how it dictates the day to day encounters between the inhabitants,as also how its geography reveals its history.
The book begins with an illiterate Muslim boy working at the train station who finds himself tempted by an Islamic terrorist.At the bottom of Kittur’s social scale, he keeps having to insist that Muslims “don’t do hanky-panky”.Then there is a Dalit bookseller who is arrested for selling the banned copies of ‘The Satanic Verses’.
It continues with the story of Shankara Kinni,a rich,spoilt,half Hoyka-half Brahmin student who explodes a bomb in the class of his teacher,Lasrado(who’s got a lisping problem that reminds me of someone…calls everyone ‘mother-puckers’).Then there is Girish,a quintessential ‘good boy’,who shocks his teacher ,D’Mello,when he lifts up the black cloth over a pornographic picture in the seedy Angel Talkies,so much so,that the teacher dies of heart attack .
The texture of Between the Assassinations is different from the The White Tiger but like it the lens is angled directly over India’s social landscape.But the main theme,the one at which the author hacks away relentlessly,is that of power relations-rich-poor,high caste-low caste,majority-minority and last but not the least,between the English-speaking and those who can’t,but are captivated by the aura of the language ; as in case of Ziauddin,”Whenever a word was said in English all work stopped, the boy would turn around and repeat the word at the top of his voice ,‘Sunday-Monday, Goodbye, Sexy!’, and the entire shop shook with laughter.”
But despite this,the book itself is loosely written,as in,there is no relati0n or continuation between one story and another; it is a bunch of stories,which although artfully written,are random at best.Admitted that you keep on reading right till the end,but in my case atleast that was because i was hoping that in the end,Adiga will string all the stories together,and make sense of them,which doesn’t happen.i’ll say,read this book if you want a taste of unbridled realism,which seems to be Adiga’s speciality ,although personally i feel he is EXTREMELY pessimistic !