The Assassin's Song: Book summary and reviews of The Assassin's Song by M.G. Vassanji

The Assassin's Song

by M.G. Vassanji

The Assassin's Song
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2007
    352 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

The Assassin’s Song opens in the 1960s in a village in Western India, the site of the thirteenth-century Sufi shrine of Pirbaag. Karsan Dargawalla is next in line after his father to assume the lordship of the shrine. But Karsan longs to be “just ordinary”–to be a great cricketer and play for his country and, at the urging of a truck driver, to learn more and more about the world. In secret he applies to go to Harvard, and when he is accepted, he can’t resist the opportunity–though this means profound disappointment for his father and heartbreak for his mother. Soon the intellectual excitement and discoveries of his new life compel him to abdicate his succession to the throne. But even as he succeeds in his “ordinary life” – becoming a professor, marrying and having a son, leading a charmed suburban existence in British Columbia – his heritage continues to haunt him. Finally when a personal tragedy strikes in Canada, and Pirbaag is devastated by communal violence, he is drawn back across thirty years of separation and silence to discover what, if anything, is left for him in India.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Frequent shifts in time and perspective (including flashes of the shrine's early history) heighten Vassanji's evocative depiction of India's ongoing postcolonial tumult, mournfully personalized by the fate of the fractured family at the novel's heart." - PW.

"There are no passages of poetic flourishes, and a reader might pause here and there, not to admire the language but to absorb a simple truth, simply stated." - The Washington Post.

"Another fine, though imperfect novel from an intelligent and inventive storyteller." - Kirkus Reviews.

"Starred Review. Richly detailed and socially astute, this is an exceptionally sensitive novel of violent conflicts and private suffering, emotional verity and metaphysical yearning." - Booklist.

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Vassanji has won the Canadian Giller Prize twice with The Book of Secrets and The In-Between World of Vikram Lall. He was born in Kenya and raised in Tanzania. Before coming to Canada in 1978, he attended MIT and the University of Pennsylvania, where he specialized in theoretical nuclear physics. His wife, Nurjehan, was born in Tanzania. They have two sons, Anil, and Kabir. He lives in Toronto, and visits Africa and India often.

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