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Between the Assassinations

Between the Assassinations

Read by: Harsh Nayyar
  • reading group guide
Welcome to Kittur, India. It's on India's southwestern coast, bounded by the Arabian Sea to the west and the Kaliamma River to the south and east. It's blessed with rich soil and scenic beauty, and it's been around for centuries. Of its 193,432 residents, only 89 declare themselves to be without religion or caste. And if the characters in Between the Assassinations are any indication, Kittur is an extraordinary crossroads of the brightest minds and the poorest morals, the up-and-coming and the downtrodden, and the poets and the prophets of an India that modern literature has rarely addressed.

A twelve-year-old boy named Ziauddin, a gofer at a tea shop near the railway station, is enticed into wrongdoing because a fair-skinned stranger treats him with dignity and warmth. George D'Souza, a mosquito-repellent sprayer, elevates himself to gardener and then chauffeur to the lovely, young Mrs. Gomes, and then loses it all when he attempts to be something more. A little girl's first act of love for her father is to beg on the street for money to support his drug habit. A factory owner is forced to choose between buying into underworld economics and blinding his staff or closing up shop. A privileged schoolboy, using his own ties to the Kittur underworld, sets off an explosive in a Jesuit-school classroom in protest against casteism. A childless couple takes refuge in a rapidly diminishing forest on the outskirts of town, feeding a group of "intimates" who visit only to mock them. And the loneliest member of the Marxist-Maoist Party of India falls in love with the one young woman, in the poorest part of town, whom he cannot afford to wed.

Between the Assassinations showcases the most beloved aspects of Adiga's writing to brilliant effect: the class struggle rendered personal; the fury of the underdog and the fire of the iconoclast; and the prodigiously ambitious narrative talent that has earned Adiga acclaim around the world and comparisons to Gogol, Ellison, Kipling, and Palahniuk. In the words of The Guardian (London), "Between the Assassinations shows that Adiga...is one of the most important voices to emerge from India in recent years."

A blinding, brilliant, and brave mosaic of Indian life as it is lived in a place called Kittur, Between the Assassinations, with all the humor, sympathy, and unflinching candor of The White Tiger, enlarges our understanding of the world we live in today.
Choose a format:
  • Simon & Schuster Audio | 
  • ISBN 9780743597210 | 
  • June 2009
List Price $23.95
Available on or around June 9, 2009

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Between the Assassinations by Aravind Adiga includes discussion questions and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Discussion Questions for Between the Assassinations


1) The symbols of each major religion act “like signposts to identify the three religions of the town to voyagers from the ocean (p.39).” Do you think these symbols act as a warning to visitors or are they welcoming signs of the diversity of Kittur? Discuss the relationships these three world religions have with each other within the city and the tensions they cause among its inhabitants.

2) Shankara is from one of the richest families in town, yet he is ashamed of his half-Hoyka background and resents his driver for being a full Brahmin. Jamayya has no issue working for another Brahmin, but refuses to share a room with another servant, because that servant is of a lower caste. In what ways do the all characters in the book struggle with the issues of caste and class in Indian society? How do characters use caste and class to define themselves and their relationships with others?

3) Discuss how the travel guide descriptions of Kittur embellish and contribute see more

About the Author

Aravind Adiga
Photo Credit: Mark Pringle

Aravind Adiga

Aravind Adiga was born in India in 1974 and attended Columbia and Oxford universities. A former correspondent for Time magazine, he has also been published in the Financial Times. He lives in Mumbai, India.

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