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Three Bargains

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  270 ratings  ·  77 reviews
A tale of fathers and sons, the ties that bind, and the barriers of class that even love cannot break, Three Bargains is a stunning first novel, as potent, heart-stopping, and epic as Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner.

By the banks of the River Yamuna in northern India, where rice paddies of basmati merge into fields of sugarcane, twelve-year-old Madan lives with his impove
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published August 11th 2014 by W. W. Norton Company
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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May 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I found this debut novel by Tania Malik to be a stirring tale of a young boy's journey into manhood, and all that it implies. The writing is first-rate, the prose moving and thought provoking, and the characters finely etched.

In likening the city of Dehli to life, the author notes that in life there is order, and in this order, chaos. That just seems right on the button to me. Such vivid imagery was a pleasure to read, words that fell gently, yet landed with a thousand pinpricks, 'a town no big
Jun 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
"Sometimes a storm comes and knocks just one tree down, and sometimes the same storm lifts away your house and takes everything with it." It was a close to the truth as he could get.

Three Bargains is Tania Malik's debut novel, but you would never suspect it. It's as eloquent, painful, and gritty a story as you could possibly imagine. The descriptions of the country and culture made me feel like I was there, for better or worse. This is a surprising (and often times shocking) novel of desperation
Lori Elliott (semi-hiatus)
Dec 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
This, the authors first novel, though not perfect was still very compelling and well thought out. 'There is one place we go first before all others, to the one man with whom, as we all do with the great cosmic giver-and-taker above, I bargained three times—once for my family, once for my life and then for you. He is the beginning of your story and mine'.... I loved this quote and it conveys very well the feeling that I'll take away from this novel. I think it's a pretty safe bet that if you were ...more
May 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
I won an ARC copy of Three Bargains in a giveaway here on Goodreads. Based on reviews from other early readers and the advertisements making comparisons to books like Slumdog millionaire and The Kite Runner, I had high expectations. Unfortunately, I think the high expectations were the undoing of this story.

It is difficult to hold up such a new author like Malik against such literary greats as Khaled Hosseini. I also recently read Jhumpa Lahiri's new novel, and that woman is such a wordsmith th
Jun 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads, fiction
Set in northern India, “Three Bargains” is decorated with many colorful, not always familiar, words. So many that I underlined them in pencil, when I normally don’t like to write in books, and made my own kind of glossary, thanks to Wikipedia and Wiktionary. Food, clothing, occupations, religious and cultural practices are among these words new to me, yet the clarity of the writing and story-telling is remarkable. Reading about Madan, Avtaar Singh, Jaggu, all of the characters – their personalit ...more
Jun 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Wonderful. This book has it all, violence, heart, mystery, and sheer determination/stubbornness of Madan, the main character. I found this book really enjoyable and great in so many ways. Madan proves that not every person is all good, or all bad. He has enough hints of evil in his character to flaw him from being purely good. He has compassion and heart. The underlying theme in this book for me was acceptance. Madan just wanted acceptance from so many players in his life, mom, "dad", girlfriend ...more
Zoe's Human
Jun 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was an emotionally complex story with vivid imagery and intricate characters. A compelling story which pulled me in immediately.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via a Goodreads giveaway. Many thanks to all involved in providing me with this opportunity.
Karen Klein
Apr 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
NOTE: I won this from Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.

Absolutely wonderful book, and as this is a debut novel from this author, I will definitely be looking forward to reading more from her! Her writing is wonderful and flows beautifully. I love reading books that are based in India; there is just something that fascinates me about the country and the people. I'm not sure if I will get to India in this lifetime, but with an author who writes as descriptively about the country and the
Jenni Belotserkovsky
May 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Three bargains is the compelling story about the life of a Indian man trying to find his way despite the challenges life throws at him. Three times in his life he encounters radical confrontations that change him and his outlook. It is also a story of the admiration a boy feels for the man who raises him and then later the struggles he has to go through to break away from this man.
As a young boy the antagonist moves with his mother and sister to his father, a violent alcoholic. The drama that en
May 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
As this novel begins, the reader is introduced to Madan Kumar. He is a twelve year old boy from a poor family, with an abusive father, who has just moved to the factory town of Gorapur, in India. Madan meets his father’s boss, Avtaar Singh, who not only runs the factory, but the town as well. Singh almost instantly recognizes Madan as someone with the potential to rise above the class he was born into. Instead of starting a job as a tea wallah, as his father had arranged, Madan is sent to school ...more
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, contemporary
I was a goodreads first reads winner of "Three Bargains" by Tania Malik. the main character in this book is "Madan" the novel starts in 1983 when Madan is 12 years old and follows his story up to current times. three Bargains takes place in India. Madan and his family are poor from age 12 he tries to get jobs to help support his family, his father is drunk and abusive and even commits an unspeakable act toward his family. Madan is the boy who has to "bargain" for his life and family. he witnesse ...more
May 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is a difficult one to rank. It is extremely well written, but some parts of it are very violent. After the first few chapters, it was very hard for me to put down. The main character, Madan is child of a very poor family, whose father is an abusive, drunk, gambler. When the father trades Madan's six year old sister for a forgiven debt, it almost destroys the family.
Madan's fortunes change for the better when the town's wealthiest citizen takes him under his wing, pays for his schooling
Jun 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This ARC book was a giveaway from you.

I loved every beautiful word of this excellent book!
The story takes place in India and the main character is 12 year old Madan who lives in poverty with his family. His life begins to change when he meets Avtaar Singh the richest man in the town of Gorapur and they develop a relationship that is both loving and violent. This book is riveting in its brutality and heartache and you won't be able to stop reading it. I'm keeping my review s
Jun 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
this was a great book. I read it in 2 sittings and was enthralled the entire time. telling the story of Madan's rise from poverty to riches, from owned to owner, it is captivating and well written. reminds me of books by Khaled Hosseini, author of A Thousand Splendid Suns. themes of friendship, marriage, loss, grief, abuse, and triumph over adversity are masterly interwoven which makes a great read. ...more
Christina Bowser
May 21, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book from Goodreads. I really thought I would love this book. Especially since it said, it was for fans of The Kite Runner and Slumdog Millionaire, which I am a fan of both. I did not connect with any of the characters and the different story lines felt disconnected at times. The story did not hold my interest and I often thought of not finishing the book.
May 20, 2014 rated it liked it
sometimes hard to follow but an interesting story
Sep 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great story. Can't help but think it would make an excellent Bollywood movie (my mind cast Ranveer Singh in the lead). Very touching ending, too. Highly recommended. ...more
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
I LOVED this book - about a boy in northern India - can hardly believe this is the author's debut novel! Could hardly put it down. The characters are unforgettable. Highly recommend this book. ...more
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was transported to India with its vibrant, pulse-rising energy and fervor by Tania Malik's gorgeous writing. Reading her captivating story, I was swept up by Madan's emotionally powerful family saga. His rags-to-riches journey captured the brutal beauty of his home and his endless search for belonging. The tale kept me guessing about what sort of bargain he would strike next to outwit his supposedly ruthless mentor he would eventually come to forgive and cherish. I can't wait to read Tania's n ...more
Amarjeet Singh
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This is a meticulous and well crafted fictional narrative which while selling a cliched love story involving all the rags to riches symbolism, profoundly differs in that that it remains grounded in reality. It is not an irredeemable flight of fancy on the author's part, and the protagonist is possibly more flawed than the novel's anti-hero. But it is essentially a tale of redemption and ultimately forgiveness told through the eyes of Madan Kumar, our tragi-hero. Crisp and prescient, who knows? W ...more
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A depressing story about India and the life of one boy favored by a vicious landowner. Sometimes so violent it makes your stomach turn, but intriguing plot with everything coming full circle at the end. Of course some parts are hard to believe, but good story telling based off of some historical truth and Indian culture. I would read whatever Tania Malik writes next. For being a woman, her voice as a boy is quite clear.
Christina Santorello
This book gave me a view into a part of Indian culture. The relationships, characters, values, descriptions were all fascinating to me. I read this for a community book club and definitely enjoyed reading it.
Dec 01, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5* Disturbing on many levels.
Manish Agarwal
Sep 08, 2021 rated it liked it
Typical Bollywood story from the 80s
A Storied Soul
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.
This review was originally posted at my blog: The Literarium

First, I must say that Indian literature is my favorite genre, it's my area of expertise, and when this book was promoted as being in the same vein as Slumdog Millionaire (Swarup, Q&A), I was immediately intrigued. However, it's important to note that Three Bargains goes much deeper than Millionaire, to me--much deeper--and I feel that it's leagues a
Jun 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014

I am not sure I know exactly what to say about what I just read but I am going to try.

This "rags to riches" tale was extremely heartbreaking to read, but also beautiful in ways and beautifully written. It is is difficult for me wrap my mind around the fact that this is Malik's first novel.

We start out on our journey through Madan's life when he is twelve years old. He is dirt poor, is living with his family and grandfather in servant's quarters under the man {Avtaar Singh} who pre
May 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting book to read and a somewhat difficult book to review. It was an engrossing story and kept my attention from the first page. However, I can't say that I always enjoyed reading it. But, then again, I don't believe that the author meant for this book to be enjoyable.

Madan is an interesting character--he almost strikes me as being Dickensian. He's very dynamic as he coasts the arc of this rags to riches to rags to riches to....(I'm not going to tell you how it ends up!). I di
Karen M
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, first-reads
It’s hard to believe that this is a first book for the author. To put it plainly, it was a very enjoyable read. The journey of the main character, Madan, is powerful and fascinating to follow. From an abused childhood of near poverty to being a self-made powerful businessman is always an intriguing story but the wonderful details are what make this book truly interesting and hard to put down.

Slumdog Millionaire is mentioned by a number of reviews but to me this is only on the surface. There is n
Jun 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: early-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
I would be wrong in saying this book surprised me - because that's not what happened at all - this is definitely something in my wheelhouse of books that I would pick up, so I guess what I would say is that this was a very good story. I would give the audiobook however more of a 3.5 star rating. And while the narrator did an excellent job of giving distinction to the different characters with authentic accents and all, I really never could shake that he was reading it like he would to a group of ...more
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Making Connections: Fiction set in India 2 8 Jan 17, 2020 03:09PM  
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Tania Malik was born in New Delhi, educated in boarding schools in the Himalayas, and raised in India, Africa, and the Middle East. She received her degree from the University of Delhi and currently lives in northern California with her husband, daughter, and dog. Three Bargains is her first novel.

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