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Book Review – The Assassinations: A Novel of 1984 by Vikram Kapoor


4/5 STARS

The Assassinations: A Novel of 1984, is a historical fiction novel based on the 1984 Sikh riots that took place in India after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her two Sikh bodyguards. The story takes place in Delhi, the centre of the riots, and follows the lives of two families who are unwittingly drawn into and deeply affected by the event, turning their lives in directions they could never have imagined.

Most non-fiction books on the subject capture stories from the worst affected areas in Delhi – Trilokpuri, Kalyanpuri, Sultanpuri, Seemapuri, Nangloi. In The Assassinations, Vikram Kapur brings the most prime and affluent localities of New Delhi into focus, portraying the immense vulnerability of even those who thought they were, or tried to remain, distant from the worst of the violence in East Delhi and the events that led up to it. The author has weaved key historical facts and events well into the narrative, creating a synchronism in how our story develops and how the characters blend into these events. There is one particular moment in the plot that took me by surprise and is extremely tragic, but it also binds the events happening in Delhi around that time very well.

I enjoyed this book for its simple and fluid expression, and because the story is completely believable and relatable. The characterisations are well done, their emotions and inner turmoils well conveyed. It is not difficult to sympathise with how they feel and why they feel so. I also really enjoyed the descriptive depiction of the Delhi of 1984; it really added to the feel of the period this book covers. There are other small details that add to the picture the author is trying to create in the reader’s mind about how bad the atmosphere in the country had become during that time. For example, there is a passage that describes how a short feature on national integration on television had been modified to include a Sikh boy, though in the past it had only been a Hindu boy and  Muslim boy. To me, this was a really interesting insight.

This is a heartbreaking story of what 1984 did to 8 people, amongst thousands, what they gained and what they lost – and what this one haunting story represents of the pain, loss and tragedy that so many continue to live with even today.

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2016 TBR Book List – Indian History


Following an extremely interesting discussion on Indian history, I realised there was much more to know about what happened, when it happened and most importantly why. In today’s day and age,  when one has all the resources to inform oneself on historical facts, I don’t see why we mustn’t be well informed – after all, our history defines our present, shaping thoughts, opinions and decisions. So to avoid developing my own version of history and instead to develop a history’s version of history, I’ve resolved to read the following books in the next few months. Its a 2016 resolution come early! and I’m raring to get started.

In no particular order, here’s my list. Being someone who is as much a hoarder as a reader, I happen to have all of these in paperback, hardback or ebook formats 🙂

  1. The Last Mughal – William Dalrymple
  2. White Mughals  – William Dalrymple
  3. India After Gandhi – Ramachandra Guha 
  4. Delhi: A Novel – Khushwant Singh
  5. The Blood Telegram – Gary J Bass
  6. Indira Gandhi, the Emergency and Indian Democracy – PN DHar
  7. The History of the Sikhs – Khushwant Singh

I guess there’s nothing left to do but read.

 

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