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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adiga does it again
Aravind Adiga follows up The White Tiger, his brutal dissection of Indian society, with yet another offering.

This time it is a collection of short stories that share a common theme - endemic corruption at all levels among public servants and a look into the flaws of the Hindu caste system, where so-called 'untouchables' exist.

Despite the country...
Published on 2 Sept. 2009 by A. Hasnath

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars So bad it shouldn't exist
I bought this audiobook to keep my mind occupied on my long comute to work. Terrible mistake! The story is low in interest as the author, Aravind Adiga keeps making the same points over and over again. Maybe he found his writing so boring he kept forgetting what he was talking about? I believe my dog can write better stories.
On top^of this and as if the incredible...
Published 22 months ago by Darkcc

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Almost, but not quite, 9 Jun. 2012
Mr. Roy T. Nolan (Cumbria, England) - See all my reviews
A selection of snapshots of different character's lives in a fictional mid size Indian city.
This is well written and takes the reader to places that most books don't cover. It gives an insight into the complexities of Indian life; caste, class, poverty, corruption.
Personally I think the separate stories needed some unifying theme that brought the character's lives together, even if only for brief moments. This may have detracted from the honesty of the book, but it would have made the whole a little more satisfying.
An ambitious, original book that doesn't quite pull off what it sets out to do.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What the tourist to a fictional Indian city doesn't see, 12 April 2010
Ripple (uk) - See all my reviews
"Between the Assassinations" is a collection of short stories set in the fictional South Indian town of Kittur, which is almost certainly Mangalore (where the Adiga grew up). But the plight of the residents can be found in any Indian city - which I imagine is Adiga's point of setting it in a fictional location. The 12 stories are vaguely interlinked (there are some recurring characters) but for the most part the stories stand alone. The time period is set between the assassinations of Indira Gandhi in 1984 and the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, although like the location, the time period and the assassinations of the title have little bearing on the events themselves.

"Between the Assassinations" was written before Adiga's "The White Tiger" and it shares many of the issues addressed in his Man Booker-winning novel, namely the plight of the poor, the disadvantaged, the caste system, religious tension, class and political corruption. Both books also share an interesting set up. While in "The White Tiger", the story is told in the form of a letter to the visiting Chinese leader warning of the "real India", here, Adiga structures his short stories around a fictional guide book for his invented town (although the sites mentioned, and even the names, are either similar or the same as those found in Mangalore) on a recommended seven day tour. Both books rage at the external views of India that are presented in contrast with the realities for its urban poor. At each location, we are led into a story of residents who live or work in that area - which are so different from the tone of the `guide book' that visitors see.

It's a clever concept and overcomes the problem that you sometimes get with collections of short stories that can appear disjointed - just as you are getting into a set of characters and their stories, you find yourself having to learn about a whole new group. With this book, you don't get that. It can be read like a coherent novel and you get a familiarity with the locations in which these stories unfold. In addition, Adiga is very skilled at getting you quickly acquainted with each new setting. Of course, the short story structure also allows him to explore the plight of different, usually disadvantaged, groups in this staggeringly diverse country.

Perhaps "Between the Assassinations" doesn't have quite the sustained pace or consistent quality of writing of "The White Tiger" and in some ways, the issues and plight of the disadvantaged in India is ground that has been visited by many Indian authors in recent years. But what makes this worth exploring is the wit and eye for detail that Adiga brings to his work.

One or two of the stories, particularly in the middle of the book, did seem to drag a little - but then again, that reflects the lives of those he's writing about. These people are living repetitive lives and only just hanging on to what little they have. However, Adiga brings enough humour, irony and compassion to his characters to prevent this from being a depressing read - that is until you think about the fact that what to us is fiction, is to a great many people their everyday experience. This is India beyond the guide books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The authors voice, 18 Oct. 2013
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I didn't like it but ploughed on with it thinking it was going to go somewhere but it didn't. Maybe the author wanted to portray the pointlessness of people's life in India, or that particular part of India, at the time. I read The White Tiger and bought this one on the strength of that whereas The White Tiger also had a streak of pointlessness running through it, in my mind that is, it had a more developed plot line. Between Assssination was a collection of narratives that with no connecting thread and all just left me feeling flat and thinking I will avoid this author now.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing form, 6 Jan. 2012
Aravind Adiga's White Tiger won the Booker Prize and was notable for its intriguing form. I thought it would be a hard act to follow. It would need a great writer to be able to make a repeat match of both originality and style with engaging content. So on beginning Between The Assassinations I was prepared to be disappointed. I need not have worried because Aravind Adiga's 2010 novel is perhaps a greater success than the earlier prize winner.

The novel does not have a linear plot, nor does it feature any resolution to satisfy the kind of reader that needs a story. But it does have its stories, several of them. Between The Assassinations is in fact a set of short stories, albeit related, rather than a novel. But the beauty of the form is that the book sets these different and indeed divergent tales in a single place, a fictitious town called Kittur.

It's on India's west coast, south of Goa and north of Cochin. Kittur presents the expected mix of religion, caste and class that uniquely yet never definitively illustrate Indian society. And by means of stories that highlight cultural, linguistic and social similarities and differences, Aravind Adiga paints a compelling and utterly vivid picture of life in the town. The observation that this amalgam both influences and in some ways determines these experiences is what makes Between The Assassinations a novel rather than a set of stories. It is the place and its culture that is the main character.

The title gives the setting in time. The book's material thus spans the years between the assassinations of the two Ghandis, Indira and Rajiv. So it is the 1980s, and politics, business, marriage, love, loyalty, development, change and corruption all figure. Aravind Adiga's juxtaposition of themes to be found in Kittur town and society thus leads us through times of questioning, rapid change and wealth creation. The book's major success is that this conducted tour of recent history never once leads the reader where the reader does not willingly want to go. The stories are vivid, the personal relationships intriguing, the settings both informative and challenging.

Between The Assassinations is a remarkable achievement. The author has succeeded in writing a thoroughly serious novel with strong intellectual threads via a set of related stories that can each be enjoyed at face value, just as stories, if that is what the reader wants. Writing rarely gets as sophisticated as this or indeed as enjoyable, since humour, often rather barbed, is always close to the surface. Between The Assassinations is a wonderful achievement.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Black Comedy of Manners Throws Laser-Bright Light, 7 Dec. 2011
Stephanie De Pue (Wilmington, NC USA) - See all my reviews
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"Between the Assassinations" comes to us as a collection of short stories, set between the assassinations of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi (1984-1991) in the city of Kittur, "on India's southwestern coast, between Goa and Calicut, and almost equidistant from the two," according to its author, multi-prize winning Aravind Adiga, who adds, "of its 193,432 residents, only 89 declare themselves to be without religion or caste." The short stories largely focus on the lives of the poor, of several religions, Muslim, Hindu, Christian; and several castes, the local Hoyka, the lowest of the castes, to the Brahmans, the highest. The stories are, however, universally powerful and brilliantly-written; but, mind you, bitter and angry in tone, as befits chronicles of the poor that we will come to know.

There is George D'Souza, former construction worker, now mosquito-repellent sprayer, who finds a good thing in the lovely young Mrs. Gomes, a grass widow whose husband sends back money from the Arabic world. D'Souza manages to become her gardener, then her chauffeur, then he is able to send to his village to install his sister Maria as Gomes's cook, which will enable the girl to accrue a dowry. And then he presumes. There is Chenayya, who delivers the heaviest furniture up hill on only his bike, and tries desperately to find a better job, without success: a visiting academic informs the deliverymen, who are fed by their boss as part of their wages, that the number of calories they receive daily is insufficient nourishment for the work they do, so that they are depriving and aging their bodies daily. He delivers a TV table to Mrs. Engineer, one of the richest women in the city; who has paid 1142 rupees cash for it: she tips him only three rupees, of which he must give two to his employer. And Gururaj, editor of the local paper: a chance meeting with a bank's Gurkha night guard suddenly illuminates for him the city's thorough-going corruption, and he is unable to continue his work.

The author gives us an India far removed from the Bollywood dreams of SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE; an India that is beautiful but filthy, full of social and economic injustice and corruption; a black comedy of manners that can help illuminate a nation of which we know little in laser-bright light.

I've not read Adiga's debut novel The White Tiger. It won the Man Booker Prize of 2008, was a "New York Times" Bestseller; a Book of the Year, 2008, The "Sunday Times" (London); and a bookseller pick, the "Boston Globe." The author was born in India in 1974; attended Columbia and Oxford universities. He is a former correspondent for "Time" magazine; has been published by the "Financial Times," and lives in Mumbai, India. Now is as good a time as any to start reading him.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing in comparison, 16 Sept. 2009
D. R. West "Buk fan" (England) - See all my reviews
I awaited the release of Adiga's second book after reading the much enjoyable 'White Tiger,' I felt that this book would have the same insight into the complex society and culture of India.

The thing is that this isn't exactly a novel, but a collection of short stories chronicling the lives of the residents in the small town of Kittar. The blurb will tell you that the stories overlap, but they don't and this is what lets the book down. It's just that the characters he creates and their stories aren't that interesting and you move on to the next one whilst instantly forgetting about the previous. There were only two stories out of the entire collection that gripped me, the rest were boring and taught me nothing new about the human condition and Adiga has added nothing new to his compelling insight on Indian culture that he gave us from his first book.

It's not a complete write off, to be fair. I think my opinion may be swayed on the high expectations I had for this based on what I thought of 'The White Tiger.' I just hope that with Adiga's next book, he returns to the novel format and manages to produce another interesting narrative just like he did with his debut.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars snapshots of life in southern India, 13 July 2010
I liked this book a lot - it's not a novel, more a collection of short stories, partially linked, set in Kittur, a fictional city in southern India.
The characters are so well observed I wondered if they were real people with their real stories. Somehow all the stories are an exercise in disappointment - for the characters, not the reader - thwarted ambitions, frustration and resignation all are well articulated.
Each chapter is interspersed with facts about Kittur (as if you are reading a travel guide), which takes the reader out of the immediate reality of life in Kittur and into observer status - only to be thrown right back in again into another story of hard life.
I liked it just as much as White Tiger.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and poignant, 29 Nov. 2011
Christian (UK) - See all my reviews
Anyone expecting the acid wit of White Tiger is not going to get it from this book. Set in the city of 'Kittur' Between the Assassinations tells the stories of a multitude of characters through short stories.

This book is very squarely directed at the poor and the caste system and the inherent unfairness in life. There is no redemption with swift consequences for those who brave trying to improve their situation in life. The tales are expertly told taking you directly into the centre of the characters and their struggles in life.

Always interesting and often very engaging, this is a book you shouldn't regret reading and rewards those who don't mind working a little when reading.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Between these covers, 29 Mar. 2010
Ankur Banerjee (London, UK) - See all my reviews
I've read both the novels that Aravind Adiga has published till now, but I thought I'll first review his second novel since it was what he wrote first. In a George Lucasian universe, this is the `right' way to count what came first. Between The Assassinations was published after Aravind Adiga won the Booker Prize.

Between The Assassinations is collection of short stories on the lives of people based in a small town called Kittur in Karnataka, where Aravind Adiga hails from. The book is titled so because the timeline of the stories is between the period of Indira Gandhi's assassination to Rajiv Gandhi's assassination. In praise of the book, each and every short story is exquisitely described - you will feel as if you yourself are present there in each situation. (This trait of Aravind Adiga's writing comes up in his later book The White Tiger too.)

There was a reason this book wasn't published earlier and it is this - it is goddamn boring. All the short stories are just a description of lives of people in a small town city. Nothing sets it apart as being in Kittur; you can transplant the stories to any other place and they'd still be the same. Nor do you give a damn about the characters; they aspire for nothing and go out of memory after a few pages. This situation is similar to a short story in this very book where an aspiring writer's stories are turned down because although they are well-written, yet the characters `want' nothing. None of the stories are related to each other in any way. I kept hoping maybe he'd do that a la Crash / Babel, which would make the effort spent reading worthwhile, but no. Stories have no bearing to the two Gandhi assassinations either, except that the author said so. The incidents could be set in any other period without making a difference.

Between The Assassinations feels like a scientifically accurate paper describing the lifetime of snail - written in excruciating detail but utterly pointless. In isolation some of the stories are good but the novel doesn't work as a cohesive unit; more importantly, it is marketed as a novel and not as a collection of short stories. Only a resident of Kittur would give a damn about it. Also, everything is written from a firang perspective. Dal becomes lentil stew; everything else is similarly translated. Ironic when you consider that Picador released this book only in India (at least, that was the situation when I bought the book).

What happened, I guess is, that Aravind Adiga using this novel as a 'shooting practice' before moving on the to `Olympic Games' (his next novel) and chose the easiest topic which came to mind. Once he won a Booker, the greedy bastards publishing companies knew they could pawn this other book off as "...from the Booker-winning writer of The White Tiger".
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Concept Album (Book), 30 July 2009
P. G. Harris - See all my reviews
Between the Assasinations is a curious, cleverly constructed book. It is a selection of short stories set in a fictional town (Kittur) on the west Coast of India. The stories are largely independent of each other (aside from the odd character stepping between tales) but through them the author provides a comprehensive picture of Kittur, both geographically and socially. It will probably come as no surprise that Kittur is intended as a microcosm of India in the period between the assassinations of Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv.

As with his previous "White Tiger", this book is to a large extent a howl of protest on behalf of the poor, the dispossesed and the powerless. The rich, and the powerful, malicious or benevolent are all the subject to the anger of Adiga's central characters. It is however also a very bleak vision, with very few of the characters seeing any hope, and any seeming progress all too frequently being reversed.

The stories range from a disaffected schoolboy letting off a bomb in a chemistry class to a disillusioned communist realising he has wasted his life in pusuit of a failed ideology.

The standout stories are probably that of a journalist seeking to tell the truth against a backgound of endemic corruption, a schoolteacher seeking to protect a favoured pupil , and of a bootlegger selling the Satanic Verses.

The bleakness could make the book depressing, but in the end this is avoided through the sheer vibrancy of the author's writing and the warts and all, but vigourous life he gives his characters.

I'm not normally a fan of short stories, but I have to recommend this highly for the beautifully drawn and comprehensive picture it provides.
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