The Assassinations: A Novel of 1984 — Book Review

Author: Vikram Kapur

Publisher: Speaking Tiger

Pages: 211


Prem Kohli, the handsome, ambitious son of a Sikh refugee, has the world at his feet: a glittering career and he’s engaged to his college girlfriend, Deepa, despite her father’s reservations about Hindus and Sikhs intermarrying. But, while Deepa remains occupied with their marriage plans, the Indian Army enters the Golden Temple. Prem cannot contain his rising anger at the desecration of the shrine, and at the people around him who shrug it off. He begins growing out his hair and visiting the gurudwara regularly, where he learns about the militancy in Punjab. Matters come to a head when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated and anti-Sikh riots break out, as Prem is caught up in a vortex of violence and hate that engulfs all their lives.
In The Assassinations, Vikram Kapur writes with sensitivity about a topic that still holds painful memories, skilfully telling the story of how ordinary lives are distorted by the forces of history. He also evokes the New Delhi of the 1980s, with its wide, leafy roads masking the precariousness of its Punjabi middle class. This memorable book captures the turbulence of those times, while chronicling how continuing to live means coming to terms with many kinds of deaths.


The plot build-up, setting build-up, moulding of the central character is beyond words. I’m in awe of the author.

This story isn’t about whether you love it or not, it’s about to what extent the impact has hit your heart and mind. And I can’t explain what I actually felt while reading. I was reading this book during the first half of a 10 hour solo train journey, with no one to talk to, all the neighbours snoring in glory (in fact I’m writing this review while on the same journey), and I felt, whenever I took few minutes break from reading or after I completed reading, I was in 1984 and seeing all of it, petrified and out of wits, no idea how to react to it. It’s my phone that brought me back to the present 😅.

All I can do is, bow down to the author and the publisher for creating this masterpiece, I recommend everyone of this generation to give this a read to know what we Indians have been facing right after we gained independence, it’ll seem that we are independent only in documents, not in actual spirits.

Rating: 5/5 (this is a masterpiece, I feel no number can justify it)

P.S. I am glad to have received the review copy. Thank you Writers Melon and Speaking Tiger.

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