FICTION

Amnesty

Scribner. Feb. 2020. 272p. ISBN 9781982127244. $26. F
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The Booker Prize–winning Adiga (The White Tiger) explores a profound moral dilemma with the story of Danny, an undocumented Tamil from Sri Lanka who works as a house cleaner in Sydney, Australia. By learning to speak with an Australian accent, dyeing his hair blond to look cool, dating a Vietnamese nurse, and working very hard at his job, Danny does everything he can to fit in and escape detection. All goes well until a female client is murdered. Unfortunately, he knows who murdered her, and the novel proceeds to follow two major themes: Danny’s struggling with whether to contact authorities, tell all he knows, and thus risk deportation; and what life is like for those who live illegally in Australia. With documentary precision, Adiga portrays the exploitation, risks, danger, paranoia, dreadful living conditions, and psychological stress faced by undocumented refugees.
VERDICT Like Valeria Luiselli in Lost Children Archive, Adiga bears witness to the disruption, pain, and hardship inherent in needing to leave one’s country and find refuge elsewhere. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 8/5/19.]

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