Death of Vishnu, The Unabridged

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9780694524426: Death of Vishnu, The Unabridged

A compelling spiritual quest viewed through the color and tumult of life In a Bombay apartment block.

At the opening of this masterful debut novel, Vishnu, the resident odd-job man, lies dying on the apartment building staircase he inhabits, while his neighbors, the Pathaks and the Asranis, argue over who will pay for an ambulance. As the action spirals up through the floors of the building, the dramas of the residents' lives unfold: Mr. Jalal's obsessive search for higher meaning; Vinod Taneja's longing for the wife he has lost; the comic elopement of Kavita Asrani, who fancies herself the heroine of a Hindi movie.

Suffused with Hindu mythology, this story of one apartment building becomes a metaphor for the social and religious division of contemporary India, and Vishnu's ascent of the staircase parallels the sours progress through the various stages of existence. As Vishnu closes in on the riddle of his own mortality, he begins to wonder whether he might not be the god Vishnu, guardian not only of the fate of the building and its occupants, but of the entire universe.

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Review:

The title of Manil Suri's first novel gets right to the point. His protagonist, having purchased the right to sleep on the ground-floor landing of a Bombay apartment house, slips slowly from a coma into death. As this aging alcoholic takes leave of the earth, his neighbors surround him, arguing over who gave Vishnu a few dried chapatis, who called the doctor for him, and who will pay for the ambulance to cart him away. Meanwhile, the hero of The Death of Vishnu is lost in memories. Drifting through increasingly vivid scenes from his past, he recalls his relatively rare snatches of love and joy--and especially his romance with Padmini, a self-involved prostitute. On one particular day, it seems, he stole one of his employer's cars and drove his love interest to the honeymoon town of Lonavala, where he showered her with gifts and finally lifted her veil to kiss her like a bride:

Then the absurdity of the situation strikes him. The preposterousness of his images, the foolishness of his feelings, the comicality of chasing currents that skim across Padmini's face. He thinks how absurd this whole trip has been, how absurd is the presence of the two of them in Lonavala, how absurd is the scenery itself that stretches before them. He thinks of poor, ridiculous Mr. Jalal, waiting back in Bombay for his Fiat, and of how Padmini will react when he asks her to buy them petrol so they can get back.
Vishnu also recalls his secret passion for Kavita Asrani, the beautiful teenage daughter of one of the families for whom he works. Given the protagonist's focus on his hapless love life, the scope of Suri's dazzling debut may appear narrow. However, the apartment house upon whose floor Vishnu spends his final hours functions as a microcosm of Indian society. It helps to know even a smattering about Hindu mythology or India's religious conflicts. But even if you don't, there is plenty to relish in The Death of Vishnu, with its comical, richly drawn characters, loving attention to the details of everyday life, and provocative exploration of destiny and free will. --Regina Marler

From the Publisher:

7 1.5-hour cassettes

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Suri, Manil
Published by Harperau (2001)
ISBN 10: 0694524425 ISBN 13: 9780694524426
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Book Description Harperau, 2001. Audio Book (Cassette). Book Condition: Good. unabridged; box is clean and bright; some wear to corners and edges; cassettes in good shape inside. Bookseller Inventory # JS-ICJL-ZATF

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Suri, Manil
Published by Harperaudio, Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. (2001)
ISBN 10: 0694524425 ISBN 13: 9780694524426
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Book Description Harperaudio, Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., 2001. Audio Book. Book Condition: Good. 8 RELIABLE and sturdy audio cassette tapes withdrawn from the library. Some shelf wear and library markings to the clamshell box and the cassettes. The eight cassettes sit inside tested and clear sounding. Enjoy this worthwhile unabridged audio performance!. Bookseller Inventory # L8Audio41510004

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