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Om Assassin's Song
M.G. Vassanjis magnificent new novel provides further proof of his unique, wide ranging and profound genius. The Assassins Song is a shining study of the conflict between ancient loyalties and modern desires, a conflict that creates turmoil the world over and it is at once an intimate portrait of one mans painful struggle to hold the earthly and the spiritual in balance.In The Assassins Song, Karsan Dargawalla tells the story of the medieval Sufi shrine of Pirbaag, and his betrayal of its legacy. But Karsans conflicted attempt to settle accounts quickly blossoms into a layered tale that spans centuries: from the mysterious Nur Fazals spiritual journeys through thirteenth century India, to his shrines eventual destruction in the horrifying riots of 2002.From the age of eleven, Karsan has been told that one day he will succeed his father as guardian of the Shrine of the Wanderer: as the highest spiritual authority in their region, he will be Gods representative to the multitudes who come to the shrine for penance and worship. But Karsans longings are simpler: to play cricket with his friends, to discover more of the exciting world he reads about in the newspapers his friend Raja Singh, a truck driver, brings him from all over India.Half on a whim, Karsan applies to study at Harvard, but when he is unexpectedly offered a scholarship there he must try to meld his familys wishes with his own yearnings. Two years immersed in the intellectual and sexual ferment of America splits him further, until finally Karsan abdicates his successorship to the eight hundred-year-old throne.But even as Karsan succeeds in his ordinary life marrying and having a son, becoming a professor in suburban British Columbia his heritage haunts him in unexpected ways. And after tragedy strikes, both in Canada and Pirbaag, he is drawn back across thirty years of silence and separation to discover what, if anything, is left for him in India.Both sweeping and intimate, The Assassins Song is a great novel in the grandest sense: a book that captures the intricate complexities of the individual conscience even as it grippingly portrays entire civilizations in tumult.