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The Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri
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The Death of Vishnu (2001)

by Manil Suri

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Hindu Gods (book 1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,650386,628 (3.53)92
  1. 20
    A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (Heaven-Ali, pdebolt)
  2. 00
    Tales from Firozsha Baag by Rohinton Mistry (jennybhatt, jennybhatt)
    jennybhatt: Another work of fiction set in a Bombay apartment complex
    jennybhatt: Another work of fiction set in a Bombay apartment complex
  3. 00
    Serious Men: A Novel by Manu Joseph (orangewords)
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    Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga (hairball)
    hairball: I read The Death of Vishnu ages ago, so I don't recall the details, but both use apartment buildings as metaphors for India.
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» See also 92 mentions

English (35)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (38)
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
I'm just a couple of chapters into this but I've decided to put it away because it just hasn't appealed to me like I thought it would. I may pick it up later, but right now I have too many things I really want to read to plug away at something that doesn't engage me.
  tkcs | Feb 23, 2019 |
My friend Roger selected this one for samizdat. My friend Mark looked a forsymbolism in the myriad floors occupied by characters; all went swimmingly until Roger flet weird about his father and sort of freaked out. I didn't freak out as I had been freaked out for a while at that particular juncture. The novel didn't really surprise in any way. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Very well written with characters that are all too believable; a fascinating look at life in India. ( )
  aurelas | Dec 23, 2016 |
Vishnu lives on the landing of a small apartment building and is slowly dying in place. In this novel we learn a little about his life and love and also about the relationships of the residents of the building. I enjoyed the personal stories, but found myself skimming when the story became mystical or spiritual. ( )
  gbelik | Dec 6, 2016 |
The Death of Vishnu is more than a story about his death, but is about the neighbors in the apartment complex where he works and lives on the front steps. Throughout the book we are given snapshots of Vishnu's life and those of his neighbors. Some of it is amazing, some funny, some sad, and some absurd. Ultimately I disliked several of the characters, liked only two, and was nearly disgusted by the remainder. An interesting read, but hardly likely to draw me to read more of his work. ( )
  whymaggiemay | Feb 13, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Manil Suriprimary authorall editionscalculated
Miró, CarlesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"I am Vishnu striding among sun gods,
the radiant sun among lights...
I stand sustaining the entire world
with a fragment of my being."
- From Krishna's discourse to Arjun, Chapter Ten, The Bhagavad-Gita, translated by Barbara Stoler Miller
Dedication
For my mother and father.
First words
Not wanting to arouse Vishnu in case he hadn't died yet, Mrs. Asrani tiptoed down to the third step above the landing on which he lived, teakettle in hand.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 006000438X, Paperback)

The title of Manil Suri's first novel gets right to the point. His protagonist, having purchased the right to sleep on the ground-floor landing of a Bombay apartment house, slips slowly from a coma into death. As this aging alcoholic takes leave of the earth, his neighbors surround him, arguing over who gave Vishnu a few dried chapatis, who called the doctor for him, and who will pay for the ambulance to cart him away. Meanwhile, the hero of The Death of Vishnu is lost in memories. Drifting through increasingly vivid scenes from his past, he recalls his relatively rare snatches of love and joy--and especially his romance with Padmini, a self-involved prostitute. On one particular day, it seems, he stole one of his employer's cars and drove his love interest to the honeymoon town of Lonavala, where he showered her with gifts and finally lifted her veil to kiss her like a bride:
Then the absurdity of the situation strikes him. The preposterousness of his images, the foolishness of his feelings, the comicality of chasing currents that skim across Padmini's face. He thinks how absurd this whole trip has been, how absurd is the presence of the two of them in Lonavala, how absurd is the scenery itself that stretches before them. He thinks of poor, ridiculous Mr. Jalal, waiting back in Bombay for his Fiat, and of how Padmini will react when he asks her to buy them petrol so they can get back.
Vishnu also recalls his secret passion for Kavita Asrani, the beautiful teenage daughter of one of the families for whom he works. Given the protagonist's focus on his hapless love life, the scope of Suri's dazzling debut may appear narrow. However, the apartment house upon whose floor Vishnu spends his final hours functions as a microcosm of Indian society. It helps to know even a smattering about Hindu mythology or India's religious conflicts. But even if you don't, there is plenty to relish in The Death of Vishnu, with its comical, richly drawn characters, loving attention to the details of everyday life, and provocative exploration of destiny and free will. --Regina Marler

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:23 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Vishnu, the odd-job man in a Bombay apartment block, lies dying on the staircase landing. In his fevered state, he looks back on his love affair with the seductive Padmini.

» see all 6 descriptions

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W.W. Norton

An edition of this book was published by W.W. Norton.

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