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Amnesty (2020)

by Aravind Adiga

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
17514123,459 (3.2)13
A riveting, suspenseful, and exuberant novel from the bestselling, Man Booker Prize-winning author of The White Tiger and Selection Day about a young illegal immigrant who must decide whether to report crucial information about a murder--and thereby risk deportation. Danny--formerly Dhananjaya Rajaratnam--is an illegal immigrant in Sydney, Australia, denied refugee status after he fled from Sri Lanka. Working as a cleaner, living out of a grocery storeroom, for three years he's been trying to create a new identity for himself. And now, with his beloved vegan girlfriend, Sonja, with his hidden accent and highlights in his hair, he is as close as he has ever come to living a normal life. But then one morning, Danny learns a female client of his has been murdered. The deed was done with a knife, at a creek he'd been to with her before; and a jacket was left at the scene, which he believes belongs to another of his clients--a doctor with whom Danny knows the woman was having an affair. Suddenly Danny is confronted with a choice: Come forward with his knowledge about the crime and risk being deported? Or say nothing, and let justice go undone? Over the course of this day, evaluating the weight of his past, his dreams for the future, and the unpredictable, often absurd reality of living invisibly and undocumented, he must wrestle with his conscience and decide if a person without rights still has responsibilities. Propulsive, insightful, and full of Aravind Adiga's signature wit and magic, Amnesty is both a timeless moral struggle and a universal story with particular urgency today.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Danny is a housecleaner in Sydney, Australia. He's an illegal immigrant from Sri Lanka, so he is constantly on the lookout so that he won't be found out and deported. Because of his status he takes underpaid jobs, and frequently finds himself at the mercy of unscrupulous people. The book does a good job of depicting what it must be like to live subject to potential deportation at every turn. Unfortunately, otherwise it is not a successful book.

One day while on a job he learns that one of his former clients has been murdered. He has knowledge that the murdered woman had been having an affair with another of his clients, and because of things he witnessed he believes the other client may be the murderer. Facts come out which seem to confirm his suspicions. Thus his dilemma--if he reports his suspicions to authorities he will probably be found out as an illegal alien and deported. If he doesn't report his suspicions, a murderer may go free.

The bulk of the book is the story of Danny's day as he wanders about Sydney trying to make a decision about what to do. There were times when Danny is playing a game of cat and mouse with the suspected murderer, but for the most part the book is unsuccessful at creating a sense of dramatic tension. It mostly became a rather boring itinerary of a man walking the mundane streets of Sydney. Maybe if you were familiar with the city, there might be some drama. I really just couldn't connect with the book, despite its good premise. One word that stuck out to me from an Amazon review was "tedious."

2 stars. ( )
  arubabookwoman | Dec 30, 2020 |
3.5 Danny, in his words, is a brown person living invisibly in Sydney, Australia. He is an illegal immigrant from Sri Lanka who left due to government abuse and came to Australia on a student visa with the encouragement of a shady money-making university that only wanted more money after he arrived. He leaves uni, and tries to seek asylum, but also abdicates his visa and passport. He manages to live under the radar of the Australian equivalent to ICE and evade deportation for 4 years. He becomes a Legendary Cleaner, cleaning various homes and flats for cash and taking pride in his work. He also works in a small grocery and lives in the stockroom with the white owner, Tommo taking a cut of all his pay. Just the daily fear and threat his lives with is harrowing enough. Australia's laws seem to be much stricter than the US, having penalties for those who employ illegals and having widespread outreach for "tattle" hotlines to report suspects. "Idealism and corruption flowed side by side in Sydney like parallel streams of sewage. White people would be lecturing you on your rights all the way to the deportation vehicle." Danny is sharp and smart - he blends in well with the vanity of bleached hair tips and doesn't take unnecessary risks or break any laws, but works hard and keeps his head down. His girlfriend Sonja is a bright spot in his life and starts to make him feel like part of something. The hardship of this lifestyle is conveyed well and with humor surprisingly, because Danny is so easy-going. However there is a plot twist. When one of his cleaning clients is murdered, Danny thinks he knows who did it. He spent a lot of time with the dead woman and her lover who was also a client. He became an unwitting part of of their love triangle. Now to share his knowledge puts his own life in jeopardy. The action takes place in a single day and Danny debates with himself to "dob in" or not the man he suspects who can just as easily "dob in" Danny as an illegal. Watching Danny debate his conscience, weigh his options, and share the backstory of what drove him from Sri Lanka makes for a very compelling, empathetic read. ( )
  CarrieWuj | Oct 24, 2020 |
Boring, predictable and sad. ( )
  bostonbibliophile | Jun 10, 2020 |
Aravind Adiga can tell such a dark story while simultaneously charming the reader. Danny, a Sri Lankan living beyond his visa expiration in Australia, works his way into the reader's heart. As witness to a murder, he must choose whether to report what he knows, risking deportation, or not to report. As he struggles with the decision, the reader must endure the disturbing, shameful details of the immigrant life of perpetual fear. All credit to Adiga for being an outstanding storyteller and being able to convey the painful ambivalence of moral dilemma. . ( )
  hemlokgang | Jun 2, 2020 |
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For Mark Greif
To thank him for twenty-two years of friendship
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All of the coastline of Sri Lanka is indented, mysterious, and beautiful—but no place is more mysterious than Batticaloa.
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A riveting, suspenseful, and exuberant novel from the bestselling, Man Booker Prize-winning author of The White Tiger and Selection Day about a young illegal immigrant who must decide whether to report crucial information about a murder--and thereby risk deportation. Danny--formerly Dhananjaya Rajaratnam--is an illegal immigrant in Sydney, Australia, denied refugee status after he fled from Sri Lanka. Working as a cleaner, living out of a grocery storeroom, for three years he's been trying to create a new identity for himself. And now, with his beloved vegan girlfriend, Sonja, with his hidden accent and highlights in his hair, he is as close as he has ever come to living a normal life. But then one morning, Danny learns a female client of his has been murdered. The deed was done with a knife, at a creek he'd been to with her before; and a jacket was left at the scene, which he believes belongs to another of his clients--a doctor with whom Danny knows the woman was having an affair. Suddenly Danny is confronted with a choice: Come forward with his knowledge about the crime and risk being deported? Or say nothing, and let justice go undone? Over the course of this day, evaluating the weight of his past, his dreams for the future, and the unpredictable, often absurd reality of living invisibly and undocumented, he must wrestle with his conscience and decide if a person without rights still has responsibilities. Propulsive, insightful, and full of Aravind Adiga's signature wit and magic, Amnesty is both a timeless moral struggle and a universal story with particular urgency today.

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