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Governor General's Literary Awards 2007: Part Four

Posted by MP / November 20, 2007

19112007_assassins.jpgIf M.G. Vassanji's Assassin’s Song were consistent, it wouldn’t be very good. Without the author's bursts of sensitivity, it would be a dry book, a What If of impressive research and historical imagination. It manages to be something more, but just barely.

A sweep through the life of a boy from Haripir, in Gujarat, descended from a line of caretakers to a sufi shrine, he struggles with the weight of his inheritance, loses the path and regains it having paid the price. Azazel, Isaac, the pir Nur Fazal and his own misstep—the parallels are obvious, and they are made with a heavy hand. To situate this story across such a broad swath of modern Indian history, from Gandhi to the Gujarat riots of 2002, is ambitious and I think, unnecessary. Vassanji is at his best, and his best is very good, when he forgets History and writes about the simple pains of the boy’s life: girls, his troublesome brother Mansoor, cricket, being a foreign student, his hidden mother, and most sorrowfully, the relationship between father and son, avatar and heir-designate. What is it like for a boy to live with his future self? These are the beautiful counterpoints of the novel, and they are wonderful in their simplicity. The rest... but perhaps it is only against cacophony that the lovely songs can be heard.

This is my last post on the English Fiction shortlist of the GGs. You can read parts one, two and three here. David Chariandy’s original and unpretentious Soucouyant is my pick for the prize (I’m a sucker for the underdog press as well.)

Discussion

7 Comments

Nathaniel / December 4, 2007 at 03:42 pm
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"The Soucouyant or Soucriant in Caribbean and specifically Trinidadian folklore is a creature that lives by day as an old woman at the end of the village. By night, however, she strips off her wrinkled skin, puts it in a mortar and flies in the shape of a fireball through the darkness, looking for a victim to suck the life-blood out of." -Wikipedia

Please tell me that's what the Chariandy book's about, and I will run, RUN out to buy it.
golu dolls / February 27, 2019 at 08:50 pm
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nice post
kanchipuram sarees / February 27, 2019 at 08:51 pm
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nice post
kanchipuram sarees / February 27, 2019 at 08:52 pm
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nice post
herbal powder / February 27, 2019 at 08:54 pm
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nice post

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