The Story of My Assassins

Sometimes one is turned off by the sheer size of the book. What I mean is the number of pages a book has. The Story Of My Assassins by Tarun Tejpal has 522 pages. Phew. I had been reading it for the past two weeks but the last Saturday proved to be a boon. The rains causing a mini storm outside, no internet and no dish TV, I had no option but to sit and read the entire book. Which, mind you I haven't done in a while. Must say, It was worth it.

Tarun Tejpal's The Alchemy of Desire had me salivating for more. I am glad that I discovered the book. The language was lucid and the book, brilliantly written. Therefore, as his next book released I made sure I bought the hardcover copy.

The very beginning of the book is promising. Tejpal is a master with his words as he mellifluously paints images of 21st century India only to sardonically comment on them as we proceed. One can describe the book as a multiple layered story that works its way through the Indian sub-continent, its double-faced spirituality and hypocrisy in the garb of religion and the very visible and yet, undoable the divide of language, wealth and class.

But there is a glitch. If I compare this book to his first, which I do inadvertently, I am a little disappointed with the flow of the story. It has left me confused in bits and pieces like when Sara decides to find out about the so-called-assassins. The story goes off in some different tangent altogether. I do not understand that why he have to go into flashbacks so many times. The description of the Muslim bastiwala pondering upon whether they would go to Pakistan or stay back in India, reminded me of Khushwant Singh's A Train to Pakistan. Reading this bit, I completely forget the beginning of the book.

It is all of course very well written. But I find it useless as even though Tejpal writes beautifully, he sometimes goes overboard with the descriptions to create an impact. It gets too much to digest. Some characters like Sara, Guruji, Hathoda Tyagi and Dubeyji, are well rounded characters. You can visualize them vividly. But characters like Ghulam, Kabir's gentle Muslim father, who alienates himself and his son from their religion and any other kind of politics, Kabir who is reduced to sculpting chuzas out of wood, seem to have more scope but left in the middle.

Overall, I would say, the book is brillantly written but does not and cannot compare itself to Tejpal's first. The fast few lines however;

"Small minds: discuss people. Average minds: discuss events. Big minds: discuss ideas. Great minds: work in silence," are brilliant.


  1. Sounds like an interesting read! I am going to try it out :)

    Nice review!

  2. hey thanks, It was interesting and precise review.I havent read the first book but have heard enough to know its a good one and now hearing from you, i shall surely include it in my list. I think i should try the first one first.

    Thanks for dropping by.TC:)

  3. nice one ire...

    m gonna try both of his books

  4. I do agree Tarun's first book was an amazing read... I glanced through the covers of the second in a bookshop... didn't pick up though...
    Now that u recommend it... Will read it sometime for sure....

  5. @ Iggy

    Thank you! Try his first novel though...

    @ Zillionbig

    Yeah please do try the first one!

  6. @ d gypsy

    Try Alchemy of Desire please!

    @ Prats

    Do read it...its good. For the language at least! Thanks for dropping by!

  7. Wow, excellent review! Makes me want to go and pick it up. But I am bang in the middle of another mammoth book, A toss of a lemon, which is over 6oo pages.
    May be will try Tarun Tejpal's book once I finish that. Thanks for writing such a precise review.

  8. @ Aparna

    Thank you! Try reading his first novel though...The Alchemy of Desire

  9. Hmmm, i am going to try it soon, nice review though :)

  10. @ eye-in-sty-in


    @ Rash

    Thanks love and I am going to lend you my copy! hehehee

  11. hey N, i know u and H r very supportive am not going to say thanks formally for your kind msg...but chodo yaar..lemme tell...thankksss....and say 2 the big man who has done the vanishing trick..

  12. interesting... maybe I will come across this book someday :)

    take care...


  13. @ R. Ramesh

    :) Told the man to leave you a message! Thanks for dropping by!

    @ Arv

    Do try it. Its a good book!

  14. Haven't read this... or his first book... but thank you for this... Alchemy of Desire... here I come...

  15. i aint a book person (now) n i hv no clue why i read d review eventhough i knew it was a review all along!!!

  16. @ blunt edges

    Its ok. Though I hope you do something someday!

  17. Thats a nice review..crisp and letting go just when we want a bit more..I hate waiting for books to reach this land esp the ones by Indian authors..

  18. @ As the Mind Meanders

    Yes please do read his first book! Awesome!

    @ Sujata

    Thank you! I always stick to reading really good Indian Authors Like Amitav Ghosh and Jhumpa Lahiri. Do try this one though...

  19. Ooo...I love that last quote!

    Sounds like he may have needed a few more revisions and some tighter editing.

  20. A new look for your blog? I also want! :)

  21. @ Julia Smith

    Yeah maybe...but do read his first book!

    @ Nicole Braganza


  22. Here is my review of this book


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