Book 146: The Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri

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The Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri

Finished reading on July 8, 2014

Rating: 9/10

There is a man dying on the landing of a building that is shared by several different families, who mostly don’t get along.

The man who’s dying is Vishnu (it’s not a spoiler, that happens in the beginning), who would usually help the families with small things like doing the dishes and in exchange he gets tea in the morning and old parathas and lives on the first landing of a house full of many colorful characters.

The book shows the lives of the people who live in the house and what they go though in a couple of days, while there’s a dying man there outside their building…

The book was very interesting, the characters were realistic and several of them were quite awful, as for example there are two neighbors – Mrs Pathak and Mrs. Asrani, who share a kitchen and don’t get along, as one thinks her hot water is stolen by the other and the second one thinks her ghee is being stolen every day by the first woman…

As I was reading it, I constantly felt exasperated as it seemed no-one really cared about the fact that there’s a man quietly dying and they went about their lives. But then you can also read about their past and Vishnu’s past and it all makes for a sad read, as there seem to be broken dreams all around. For me one of the saddest characters was Mr. Jalal, who is an intellectual type and who wishes to understand faith, as his wife is a proper Muslim woman, but Mr. Jalal is trying to go about finding faith in a secretive fashion and in somewhat odd way. And of-course there has to be some quarrel between the Hindus and Muslims in the book…

It was a good read, although I did get quite exasperated in places as some characters seem to exist in the story just for the sake of causing more trouble and pain for others.

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