Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Amnesty” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.44  ·  Rating details ·  481 ratings  ·  123 reviews
A riveting, suspenseful, and exuberant novel from the bestselling, Man Booker Prizewinning author of The White Tiger and Selection Day about a young illegal immigrant who must decide whether to report crucial information about a murderand thereby risk deportation.

Dannyformerly Dhananjaya Rajaratnamis an illegal immigrant in Sydney, Australia, denied refugee status after he
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 18th 2020 by Scribner
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Amnesty, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Deborah Drucker The protagonist refers to himself, and other undocumented immigrants, as illegal, and what it means to be legal vs. illegal in Australia is a large…moreThe protagonist refers to himself, and other undocumented immigrants, as illegal, and what it means to be ¨legal¨ vs. ¨illegal¨ in Australia is a large part of the narrative. (less)
Annette ha! Good question. I'll answer that the book is more of a mood than a plot-driven piece. I experienced the book -- viscerally, cognitively, and it…moreha! Good question. I'll answer that the book is more of a mood than a plot-driven piece. I experienced the book -- viscerally, cognitively, and it continues to haunt me because we're now living in a world with COVID-19 and there are parallels to the prevalent mood of our times, to that in the book. The writing is post-modern, I don't think it's funny (not at all!) like White Tiger was laugh-out-loud funny, and you've got to make space for a mood to overcome you. If you like plot-driven books, this one's not for you. Very little happens and you're right, the synopsis tells us what happens. But that's not the point of the book. The point for me, is to think deeply about how it made me feel and what I think about the issues it raises.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.44  · 
Rating details
 ·  481 ratings  ·  123 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Amnesty
Danny, a young adult in his twenties from Sri Lanka, has been living in Australia illegally for four years as a cleaner. Soon into the novel, one of the residents that he cleaned for is killed. Danny might have an idea of what could have happened, but he internally struggles with the responsibility of this knowledge since the decision to help with the murder case could get him deported.
The novel takes place throughout this one day in Danny's life.

"But whoever did it, and for whatever reason,
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's all about rules, so says Dhananjaya "Danny" Rajaratnam, an illegal immigrant from Sri Lanka. "Many of us flee chaos to come here. Aussies are an optimistic and methodical people...Understanding the concept of the rule that cannot be broken is vital to adjusting here." "Even before he got to Australia, Danny was practicing becoming Australian...[Danny must] eliminate the tics that Tamils bring to their English."

Securing a student visa for an overpriced "ripoff" of a university in Australia,
Mar 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Danny is an illegal alien from Sri Lanka! He entered Australia legally, but has let his visa expire. Although he applied for asylum, he was denied because he wasnt smuggled in on a boat which would highlight his level of desperation and fear. So this Tamal Christian currently earns his living as a cleaner, and seeks invisibility so he wont be deported.

So what is he to do when he is a witness to a murderand the murderer knows it? The cat-and-mouse game between Danny and the murderer takes up the
Mar 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Danny divided Sydney into two kinds of suburbs thick bum, where the working classes lived, ate badly, and cleaned for themselves; and thin bum, where the fit and young people ate salads and jogged a lot but almost never cleaned their own homes.

Danny has been living as an illegal in Sydney Australia for 4 years. He cleans apartments for a living and turns over a large chunk of his earnings to a shop owner who lets Danny sleep in a small room. He and his fellow illegals (as they refer to
DNF at 53%. I decided to give up on this one as I was struggling to get through it. I concluded my TBR list was too long to spend time ploughing through a book I wasnt enjoying. Its a shame because I was very taken with the concept, which you can read in the blurb at the top of the page. To begin with I was looking forward to reading what the author made of the intriguing scenario he had created.

The novel itself, or the first half of it at least, is set across a single day of Dannys life, the
Elle Rudy
Feb 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2020
Im not entirely sure how to feel about this one. Certainly the premise is enticing: an undocumented immigrant from Sri Lanka currently living in Australia is a potential witness in a violent crime. This isnt just a possibility, but a reality for many from undocumented communities all over the world. Fear of deportation or imprisonment is so great that they are wary to go to the authorities when they themselves are victims of crimes, and therefore are more likely to be victims than perpetrators.

Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Amnesty, Aravind Adiga tells the story of Dhananjaya Rajaratnam, a Sri Lankan Tamil from Batticaloa, the most beautiful and mysterious city on the Sri Lankan coast, famous for its magical lagoon with its singing fish. Danny returns to Batticaloa after working for a year as a motel clerk in Dubai wearing a suit to work! and finds himself suspected and tortured by local police for involvement in the Tamil Tigers. Danny hops a flight to Sydney on a student visa, decides that diploma mill for ...more
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
For four years young Sri Lankan man Danny Rajaratnam has lived an invisible life in Sydney as an illegal immigrant. He's suppressed his Tamil accent to achieve something that sounds - while not exactly Australian - quite neutral, he's paid to have golden highlights in his hair, he takes care to heed the particular instructions of his housecleaning clients to avoid confrontation and he always travels with a validated ticket on public transport.

Easiest thing in the world, becoming invisible to
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Danny (Dhananjaya Rajaratnam) has been living as an illegal immigrant in Sydney for four years after arriving from Sri Lanka on an educational visa to study at what turned out to be a bogus college. He's managed to make himself nearly invisible on the streets of Sydney, dying the tips of his hair golden, smoothing out his Tamil accent and peppering his English with Aussie expressions. He has a girlfriend, a handful of friends who are also illegal immigrants and some regular work as a cash in ...more
Amnesty takes a very original take on the life of an "illegal". The narrative follows Danny, a young Sri Lankan who deliberately overstayed his visa and now resides in Sydney as invisibly as he can. He works as a cash in hand cleaner. One of his clients is murdered and he thinks he knows who is the murderer. His quandary is whether to talk to the police, a big no no for a non-person, or to live with his conscious.
His observations on Australians and racism, religion and the law is scarily
Kasa Cotugno
Aravind Adiga is a name that should be better known. His novels offer up to the minute examinations of the current world view from the point of view of what he refers to as southern Asians, and in this case, the plight and moral dilemma of a young Sri Lankan Tamil expat trying to gain a visa in Australia. With all that is happening in the United States these days regarding potential immigrants who have something to contribute and being denied access or hunted down and deported, it is eyeopening ...more
Alan Teder
Tedious Not-so-thrilling Thriller
Review of the Scribner hardcover edition (2020)

I felt betrayed by the shill synopsis and blurbs which promised an intriguing cat and mouse game between an undocumented immigrant to Australia and their suspected culprit in the murder of a woman that they both knew. The actual result was quite tedious and a struggle to continue reading.

We are told many times that the immigrant is wearing a vacuum cleaner on his back as if it was an astronaut's oxygen pack while
Dec 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Easiest thing in the world, becoming invisible to white people who dont see you anyway; but the hardest thing is becoming invisible to brown people, who will see you no matter what.

Sri Lankan Dhananjaya Rajaratnumaka Dannyarrived in Australia by plane with a visa stamped on his passport to attend a dodgy college. Rather than play by the unstated but understood rules, he allowed his student visa to expire, placing him in no-mans land. Since leaving the school, he has successfully stayed beneath
Gumble's Yard
Mar 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Aravind Adigas White Tiger was I think the weakest Booker-winning book I have ever read: not my least favourite (there are other books which did not work for me at all Disgrace, Brief History of Seven Killings, The Finkler Question but where I would not question their literary merit) but in my view the least meritorious.

The book of course, many years pre-American Dirt, received criticisms of appropriation/inauthenticity (in this case less in ethnic terms than wealth ones) and was also I felt
Laura • lauralovestoread
This is a really hard one to rate because there were parts that really fascinated me, and parts that just jumbled together without making much sense to me. I even DNFd at one point, only to pick it back up again. I wanted to love this book based on the synopsis, but Im afraid it just wasnt for me.

*thank you to the publisher for the gifted copy. All opinions are my own
Dec 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For international reading purposes this was ideal. A book by an Indian author, set in Australia with a plot revolving around a Sri Lankan immigrant. Plus Im always interested in what sort of authors win Booker Prize and this one did, albeit for previous work. Amnesty is a book that took 5 years to complete and its deceptively slim volume conceals a very serious meditation on the subject of immigration and social responsibilities. It is, in general, a fascinating questionWhat does a society owe a ...more
Liz Barnsley
Feb 23, 2020 rated it really liked it

Amnesty was a beautifully written page turner, set over the course of a day, as Sri Lankan immigrant to Australia Danny finds he has knowledge that may well help solve a murder problem being he has overstayed his welcome and now faces a moral dilemmahis ability to remain under the radar versus the right thing to do

The author paints a vivid picture over the timeline, of Dannys life here as an undocumented person and the life he left behind- presenting the reader with their own dilemma in whether
Mixed feelings on this one. There were things I liked but I also found, upon reaching the end, that I wasnt really sure what the point ever was. We follow Danny, over the course of a day, that begins typically enough for him, as an illegal immigrant in Australia who fled his home in Sri Lanka where he was part of the Tamil minority and harassed by police. Soon enough though, he sees police at one of the homes he used to clean and discovers that a woman is dead. We discover the dead woman had ...more
Vivek Tejuja
I was very eager to read this one, because I loved Last Man in Tower, when I first read it in 2011. I still remember the book as vividly. I don't know if I will be able to say this of Amnesty, nine years from now. It is not that I did not like the read. It is just that I had great expectations from it, which it did not live upto. 

Amnesty is a book about Danny, a young adult in his twenties from Sri Lanka, who has been living illegally in Australia for four years as a cleaner. The book is about
Carla (Carla's Book Bits)
Dec 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm not quite sure how to review this book, so if you'll indulge me, I'll just talk about my own experience instead of "what this book is."

Reading the synopsis, at first I expected Amnesty to be this fast-paced, action-packed thing; and upon reading it, I was surprised to see it's actually pretty slow-paced. This book is a meditation. It's a continuous back-and-forth.

Aravind Adiga's writing style (this is my first time with it, so I haven't read his Booker-winning novel) is very textured.. a
Murtaza Kuwarawala
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Title : Amnesty

Author : Aravind Adiga

Genre : Contemporary Fiction

Aravind Adiga has been on my Auto-Buy list since I read his debut novel, The White Tiger. With his fifth book finally releasing, I'm pretty excited to share my take on the same.

Amnesty is the story of Danny, an illegal immigrant from Sri Lanka living in Sydney. Danny has been trying to gain the refugee status and has been working as a cleaner after quitting his studies from a bogus college. One day, Danny comes across the murder of
Feb 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
One of the most depressing books I've ever read, precisely because the author makes no effort to be bleak or morbid, he just creates an honest and believable portrait of the most vulnerable, alienated population on Earth - economic refugees, euphemistically known as "the undocumented" or "illegals." Danny, a Tamil from Sri Lanka, lives in a converted storage space above a grocery store and cleans apartments for cash in Sydney, Australia, a miserable existence that's still an improvement on what ...more
Lisa Carter
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This day-in-the life story begins with a whimsical view of Australia told from the perspective of Dhananjaya Rajaratnam, an illegal immigrant from Sri Lanka. A housekeeper, Danny refers to himself as an astronaut because of the vacuum he carries on his back, is proud of his new bleach-blond hairdo, detests the stink of broccoli, and phones his girlfriend in a panic to identify what turns out to be a harmless house spider.

Tension mounts quickly, however, when Danny realizes that a woman across
Mar 13, 2020 rated it really liked it

Amnesty, by Aravind Adiga burrows inside the psyche of an undocumented immigrant in Australia. No piece of literature that I have come across until now -- and there have been lots -- better captures the paranoia and moral complexity of living on the fringes of a society that is not your own.

Danny is a Sri Lankan house cleaner in Sydney. For the previous four years, he has lived in the storeroom above a convenience store owned by a Greek named Tommo, to whom he is little better than an indentured
Lia (_Lia_Reads_)
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own, arc
Thanks to Scribner for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

This was such a funky little book that I have kept thinking about since I finished it. The story follows Danny, an illegal immigrant living in Sydney. To make his living, he takes under the table house cleaning jobs in the apartments of wealthy Australians. The book takes place over one day, during which he hears about the murder of one of his former clients and suspects her lover (and another client of his) is involved.
A young illegal Sri Lankan immigrant in Sydney has a dilemma - should he make a call to the police about key information he has about a murder? What will it do to his future? What should he do - right or wrong? This is the story of Danny - who cleans homes for a living. Having no papers, no status, no nothing in the city of Sydney, he lives his life furtively, secretly, and is taken advantage of by his employer. But he longs to belong, he works hard, lives in a grocery storeroom, does a great ...more
Taunya Miller
Jan 04, 2020 rated it liked it
I received this book from Scribner, free of charge, in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Danny is an illegal immigrant from Sri Lanka. He arrived in Sydney with a student visa. However, after making a foolish decision to drop out of college and to not return home, he is now trying his best to be invisible. He has established himself as a cleaner, as well as a stocker in the small grocery store in which he lives. He has a girlfriend, Sonja, who does not know that he's illegal.

Danny has
Cindy H.
Mar 02, 2020 rated it liked it
If someone is denied rights, do they still maintain responsibilities?
A clever satire written by Booker winner Aravind Adiga. Danny enters Australia on a student visa only to discover his university is a scam. Choosing to stay in the country without attending school is considered illegal , & if caught he will face deportation. Danny, honest & hardworking becomes a house cleaner constantly staying one step ahead of the legal system. When he becomes privy to information regarding a murder
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Adiga skillfully describes the emotional distress that Danny, a Tamil who is in Australia as an illegal immigrant, deals with as he must watch his every step lest he gets deported. As an illegal he is constantly being taken advantage of by legal immigrants. Danny overstayed his student visa and is self-employed as a house cleaner. One of his clients is murdered and Danny strongly suspects that another one of his clients is the killer, but if he goes to the authorities he is likely to get ...more
Sana Abdulla
Mar 31, 2020 rated it liked it
My least favourite book so far for a 5 star writer, it is a day in the life of an illegal immigrant in Sydney who makes a living cleaning homes. When one of his former clients is murdered, he calls her murderer and immediately regrets it, he then spends the day in a churning dilemma, recalling his life up to this particular moments with all the events that led him to lead his ever cautious immigrant life, ekeing a living and being exploited by the upright citizens of Australia.
It is good
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line
  • Apeirogon
  • Run Me to Earth
  • Weather
  • The Chestnut Man
  • Quantum (Captain Chase #1)
  • Olive, Again
  • Everywhere You Don't Belong
  • The Starless Sea
  • The Family Upstairs
  • Emergency Skin
  • Lanny
  • Imaginary Friend
  • The Mountains Sing
  • The Lover
  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
  • To Be Taught, If Fortunate
  • White Noise
See similar books…
Aravind Adiga was born in 1974 in Madras (now called Chennai), and grew up in Mangalore in the south of India. He was educated at Columbia University in New York and Magdalen College, Oxford. His articles have appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, the Sunday Times, the Financial Times, and the Times of India. His debut novel, The White Tiger, won the Man Booker Prize for fiction in ...more

Related Articles

The chronicler of modern India discusses his new work, Last Man in Tower, about a retired schoolteacher who refuses to vacate an old building sched...
23 likes · 6 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“Easiest thing in the world, becoming invisible to white people, who don’t see you anyway; but the hardest thing is becoming invisible to brown people, who will see you no matter what.” 0 likes
“Turning to his right, Danny saw a great fig tree sparkle in many places inside its dark canopy of leaves, like a thing that knew its own heart.” 0 likes
More quotes…