The Assassin's Song
Once you've plunged into the book and read a couple of chapters, you immediately get that sense of timelessness. M. G. Vassanji intersperses aspects of the "present day" with events in the thirteenth century and events from the narrator's childhood. The historical events take on the quality of a story or a myth, whereas t ...more
The book isn't a novel so much as a fictional biography, and the main character has a pretty bizarre life. He's an Indian boy who was raised near a shrine that his family had inherited the duty and privilege of keeping up. His father was said to be an avatar, and he would be some day his successor. So of course t ...more
The tension between India's centuries-old spiritual traditions and contemporary religious militancy drives this memorable, melancholy family saga by two-time Canadian Giller Prize–winner Vassanji (who won for The Book of Secrets and The In-Between World of Vikram Lall). Karsan Dargawalla is destined from boyhood to succeed his father and his father's father as avatar of Pirbaag, a 13th-century Sufi shrine. As the novel unfolds in fits and starts, Karsan rejects his spirit...more
Turns out, its a beautiful story with history, religion, family drama and great story telling. What it isn't is a murder mystery but you will still find yourself captured and wanting more!
The novel is set in India from Partition to the devastating religious violence of the early 21st century, following the timeless theme of father/son tension and sibling disharmony. There is a rich vein of material here to mine, and mine it Vassanji does. Yet there i ...more
I have the hardest time reading books about India written by international authors (the authors of the books I am exposed to that take place on that continent are never just from India. They are English or Canadian too). I find that the feeling of the prose i ...more
“Though who knows why people pack up and go? It’s only themselves they are running from.”
“Physically I may b ...more
The Assassin's Song is an amazing book that moved me to my core. I have met a lot of amazing Indians and Pakistani through the years, without realizing the historical trauma that lies between the homelands of their people. Remember a friend's effort in explaining to me the scene of conflicts between Muslim and Hindus in the movie "Slumdog Millionaire"; here, M. G. Vassanji has plunged us into the turmoil and sadness of such tragedies in his beautiful work of "T ...more
I read The Magic of Saida recently so i knew that i would enjoy another of his books, but i was wrong. It's written well but i'm not picking up the deeper meanings and nuances that i did in his other book. I made some notes that i will add later.
I like the passage on page 89 "We were a country of sages. They were all over the place, sometimes clogging the streets and roadways."
again i enjoyed thi ...more
This book touches on one of my favourite subjects as well - what it means to be part of the Indian diaspora, sometimes lost in the Western world but ultimately seduced by its promise of individuality and choice.
Communal violence is also a strong theme throughout and I thought Vassanji's positioning of Pirbaag as between faiths and not solely defined by one was very clev ...more
Set mostly in India, it is a compelling book with wonderful characters. We feel for Karsan, the protaganist as he defies his father, all the time feeling the pull of family, faith and history. We also feel for the father as he tries to keep his son and guide him as his successor.
I have not been to India, but the descriptions of the shrine which was his home in the fictional town of Pirbaag in northern India were so graphic, not o ...more
This book is about a Sufi saint in the 13th Century and his shrine/legacy in the modern era. Its about Hindus, Muslims, and those not Hindu or Muslim. Great themes, fascinating historical context, and well written, I just cannot finish.
I guess I was expecting more from a Giller Prize book.
The Assassin's Song weaves the recent past, modern times, and the ancient past together in such a smooth way that it leaves you thinking "Of course, nothing else could possibly make sense".