Book review: Midnight’s Children

When I finally completed Salman Rushdie’s bestselling novel “Midnight’s Children,” I was truly, truly relieved that I persevered till the very last page for it truly is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece that left me marveled and humbled by his ability to blur the lines between magic and history.

Set in the postcolonial era, this novel is as much the autobiography of protagonist Saleem Sinai as well as the story of India. Saleem, who was born at the stroke of midnight on India’s independence, inexplicably shared his life’s triumphs and disasters with the fate of his nation. This coincidence also endowed him magical powers in his large cucumber nose to sniff out danger when others were unable to and telepathic powers to connect with other children like him who were born in the early hours of independence, a group which he called “midnight’s children.’

“It is the privilege and the curse of midnight’s children to be both masters and victims of their times, to forsake privacy and be sucked into the annihilating whirlpool of the multitudes, and to be unable to live or die in peace.”

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Book review: Last man in tower

If you have read a few of Indian writer Aravind Adiga’s books, his latest novel ‘Last Man in Tower’ is not going to be much of a surprise.

The 2008 Man Booker Prize winner’s third novel spots many similarities used in his last two books. (Click here for my review of his second novel ‘Between the assassinations’)

Poverty remains as the central topic of interest. Set in the rapidly developing Indian city of Mumbai, ‘Last Man in Tower’ narrates the dark side of development in India, a tale that sounds all too familiar in most developing countries where bits of history are forcefully uprooted or destroyed to give way to tall shiny skyscrapers.

At times, it almost felt like Adiga was casting stereotypes about certain groups of people. The rich is almost always represented by an overweight, cruel and ruthless businessman.

Moreover the storyline also stays pretty predictable and is not much of a breakthrough from previous books.

Yet there are still merit points that helped salvaged the book

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Book review: Between the assassinations

Title: Between the assassinations
Author: Aravind Adiga

Despite being an entertaining read, Between the Assassinations is overall a disappointing book for it felt more like an unfinished product that left me hanging in the air after completing it.

I confessed that I picked this book mainly because I was impressed by Aravind Adiga’s debut novel, The White Tiger, focusing on exploring the highs and lows of modern India’s economic prosperity and their impact, particularly on the poor in the society.

This book was and still remains a hit for me because of the seriousness and depth of topics discussed but written in a dark comical manner through a main protagonist Balram Halwi, leaving readers laughing albeit in a bittersweet way.

Perhaps The White Tiger raised the bar too high, Between the Assassinations, which was in fact penned before the former, appeared lackluster, lacking the links and connections necessary to string the bits and bobs together for a coherent piece.

The novel, as the title suggests, was set in between the assassinations of Indira Gandhi in 1984 and her son, Rajiv Gandhi, in 1991, composed of multiple short stories taking place in the fictitious town of Kittur, Southwest India.

Through presenting story vignettes, Adiga cleverly leaves us with fragmented but diverse viewpoints about their struggles and hardships surviving in a town.
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