The Assassin's Song
By M.G. Vassanji
(Vintage, Paperback, 9781400076574, 352pp.)
Publication Date: August 12, 2008
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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In the aftermath of the brutal violence that gripped western India in 2002, Karsan Dargawalla, heir to Pirbaag – the shrine of a mysterious, medieval sufi – begins to tell the story of his family. His tale opens in the 1960s: young Karsan is next in line after his father to assume lordship of the shrine, but he longs to be “just ordinary.” Despite his father's pleas, Karsan leaves home behind for Harvard, and, eventually, marriage and a career. Not until tragedy strikes, both in Karsan's adopted home in Canada and in Pirbaag, is he drawn back across thirty years of separation and silence to discover what, if anything, is left for him in India.
M. G. Vassanji was born in Kenya and raised in Tanzania. Before coming to Canada in 1978, he attended M.I.T. and the University of Pennsylvania, and later was writer in residence at the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa. Vassanji is the author of four acclaimed novels: The Gunny Sack, which won a regional Commonwealth Prize; No New Land; The Book of Secrets, which won the very first Giller Prize; and Amriika. He lives in Toronto with his wife and two sons.
“A deeply affecting story, full of contemplation and mystery. . . . At once lush and precise.”
“Thought-provoking and satisfying. . . . There are echoes of Rohinton Mistry, of V. S. Naipaul, of Salman Rushdie. But the lyricism of Karsan's contemplations, the careful evocation of place, the writer's obvious warmth for his characters, the sense of compassion layered into the story—these are all Vassanji's.”
—The Washington Post Book World
“A resplendent novel. . . .Vassanji eloquently details the sufferings of Karsan's family as the price of his individual freedom.”
—The New Yorker
“Moving. . . . A complex, multifaceted drama, one that interweaves history, religion and politics with a vibrant personal story.”
—San Francisco Chronicle