Aravind Adiga

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Between The Assassinations – Aravind Adiga

Published February 4, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

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 between the brightest minds and the poorest morals, the up-and-coming and the downtrodden, and the poets and the prophets of an India that modern literature has rarely addressed.

A series of sketches that together form 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, enlarges our understanding of the world we live in today.

What did I think?:

I had high hopes for Between The Assassinations after really enjoying the authors previous novels, Last Man In Tower and the Man Booker Prize winner The White Tiger. I have to admit to unfortunately being slightly disappointed with this offering and it was only after reading a few other reviews that I discovered that this book was allegedly rejected by publishers and it was only released after Adiga’s Booker win. That’s not to say this novel is a bad read because it certainly isn’t, perhaps it was my own high expectations that ruined it for me! It does have decent and some very favourable reviews on GoodReads but on average it comes in at 3.30 which is about where I would put it myself on the rating chart.

Regular readers of my blog may wonder why I haven’t included this book in my regular feature, Short Stories Challenge as this book consists of fourteen short stories that are very loosely linked together but all have the common theme of being situated in one town in India, Kittur. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t aware that the book was a series of short stories but it was quite nice to read all of them in one sitting rather than how I usually structure short stories from the same collection. The aim of this book was to paint a portrait of Kittur over a seven day period using fourteen separate stories with very different characters in each. In this way, I believe the book completely hit the target – we hear from a wide variety of personalities, all with an exclusive moral code, belief or dream to follow.

In Between The Assassinations the author gives us the good, the bad and the downright ugly in a country that is slowly rising up from an economic mess to become a real power in the world but still houses a vast amount of poverty, corruption and violence. I found it fascinating to learn about both sides of the coin, for example the bicycle wallah who burns off more calories working than he is ever able to replace and is at risk of dying from exhaustion before he is forty or the children who beg on the streets to fund their father’s drug addiction. When you compare this to the wealthy (and often corrupt in this novel) it does touch something within you and I was often reeling with the unfairness of it all.

Religion also causes many problems in this book, as it does unfortunately through the entire world, and Adiga explores not just the three main religions in India (Muslim, Hindu and Christian) but the ever ominous caste system which includes a class of people so low in status that they are referred to as “the untouchables.” India has moved slightly forward in adopting modern values regarding this system but it is clear that a lot of work still needs to be done. For me, the best thing about this book was that I felt I was getting a real, no holds-barred insight into India during an interesting period of her history (between the assassinations of Indira Ghandi and her son Rajiv). Adiga pulls no punches with his descriptive and very raw writing at times and I really appreciated his honesty. The only reason I’ve given this book an “average,” rating is that although the stories kept me interested I didn’t find the writing as amazing as his previous two novels.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe.

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

1024px-Cycle_rickshaw_wallah_in_DhakaImage from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ACycle_rickshaw_wallah_in_Dhaka.jpg

By Steve Evans from India and USA (Dhaka, Bangladesh) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Last Man in Tower – Aravind Adiga

Published December 29, 2013 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

A tale of one man refusing to leave his home in the face of property development. Tower A is a relic from a co-operative housing society established in the 1950s. When a property developer offers to buy out the residents for eye-watering sums, the principled yet arrogant teacher is the only one to refuse the offer, determined not to surrender his sentimental attachment to his home and his right to live in it, in the name of greed. His neighbours gradually relinquish any similar qualms they might have and, in a typically blunt satirical premise take matters into their own hands, determined to seize their slice of the new Mumbai as it transforms from stinky slum to silvery skyscrapers at dizzying, almost gravity-defying speed.

What did I think?:

This is the second book of Aravind Adiga’s that I have read, after thoroughly enjoying his Man Booker prize winning novel The White Tiger which I also recommend. In this novel we meet a host of colourful characters who are living happily in a tower block in Mumbai despite the occasional shabbiness and state of repair of their apartments. Unfortunately, change is coming in the shape of a ruthless property developer called Dharmen Shah who offers a life-changing amount of money to the residents of Tower A so that he may demolish and re-develop it as part of the “new” India. There is one catch however, all the residents must agree to be bought out, for the plan to go through, and there is one tenant – Masterji, who refuses to be moved. Masterji, an old teacher who often lectures some of the children in the towers, is quite happy in his home and quite stubbornly refuses to be goaded. His apartment is filled with memories of his late wife and daughter, and quite simply he is reluctant to leave them behind.

There is a lot of humour in this novel, especially if you like your humour quite dark…as there is bucket loads of darkness in this novel. The tenants of Tower A become almost infatuated with greed for the money on offer, and the author explores an interesting concept of exactly how far people will go to get rich. The whole smell and feel of Mumbai is also on show and the contrast between the skyscrapers for the rich and the poverty in the slums is laid out, with no holds barred for the reader to immerse themselves in. I loved the array of characters, and thought they were conceived perfectly, especially Masterji who I found myself rooting for throughout the novel. I think anyone who enjoyed The White Tiger will love this novel, and I cannot wait to read his next. One of my auto-buy authors? Most definitely!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

WWW Wednesday #25

Published December 18, 2013 by bibliobeth

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Click on the image to get to her blog!

Hello everyone, it’s WWW Wednesday! Thanks as ever to MizB at Should Be Reading for hosting.

To join in you need to answer 3 questions..

•What are you currently reading?

•What did you recently finish reading?

•What do you think you’ll read next?

Click on the book covers to take you to a link to find out more!

What are you currently reading?

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I’m just about to start this book for one of my GoodReads book groups, Bright Young Things, looking forward to seeing what it’s all about.

What did you recently finish reading?:

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Just finished this book and loved it. Really wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did so it was a pleasant surprise! My review should be up sometime next week hopefully.

What do you think you’ll read next?:

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Another one I’m looking forward to! I’ve seen the film with Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon, but never actually read the original play. Time to change that methinks.

What are you reading this Wednesday? Please leave your link and I’ll come pay you a visit. Happy Reading Everyone!

WWW Wednesday #24

Published December 11, 2013 by bibliobeth

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Click on the image to get to her blog!

Hello everyone, it’s WWW Wednesday! Thanks as ever to MizB at Should Be Reading for hosting.

To join in you need to answer 3 questions..

•What are you currently reading?

•What did you recently finish reading?

•What do you think you’ll read next?

Click on the book covers to take you to a link to find out more!

What are you currently reading?

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I’m reading this book as part of a “Talking About” series I participate in with my wonderful sister ChrissiReads and am really enjoying it so far. Look out for our review at some point next week! (I think)

What did you recently finish reading?

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This was the first book of Laurie Halse Anderson’s that I’ve read, and I was really impressed! Look out for my review in a few days time.

What do you think you’ll read next?:

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I read the Man Booker prize winning novel The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga not so long ago and really enjoyed it so looking forward to checking out this one.

What are you reading this Wednesday? Please leave your link and I’ll come pay you a visit. Happy Reading Everyone!