Amnesty: Aravind Adiga


Aravind Adiga’s Amnesty is the deeply pensive story of an illegal immigrant to Australia who has important information about a murder but fears deportation if he contacts the authorities.

Thanks to Scribner for the free book!

Danny fled Sri Lanka to start life anew in Australia, where he was confident things would be better for him. His current reality is bleak, and he is constantly terrified of being tracked down by Immigration authorities and sent back to Sri Lanka. This fear dictates how he can act and where he can go.

When Danny learns that one of the clients he cleans for has been murdered, he realizes that he has crucial information pertaining to her murder. Immobilized by fear, he cannot decide whether to contact the authorities and risk jail and deportation or to live with the knowledge that he may know who the killer is, but continue to live in Australia.

Content Warning

Please take caution while reading Amnesty if any of the following topics may trigger you:

  • Self-harm / suicidal thoughts
  • Violence
  • Death / dying
  • Blood
  • Mental illness / ableism
  • Racism
  • Classism

My Thoughts

I had a hard time getting into the swing of Amnesty, truthfully. The writing style is very unique and I definitely had to play catch-up to get used to it as the plot got moving. The good news is that I did get used to the writing, and I found the story to be really insightful and ultimately quite suspenseful.

The portrayal of Danny, an illegal immigrant, trying to make a life for himself in Australia while always knowing in the back of his mind that he could be detained and deported at every new street corner, was extremely compelling. The character was deeply complicated, and his internal monologues definitely mirrored that.

I struggled with how introspective this book is – so much so that, while there is a plot and there is action, it can feel like nothing is happening because Danny is so in his own head. Danny is immobilized by his inability to make decisions, which is deliciously infuriating, but infuriating nonetheless.

Throughout the story, the reader is gifted pieces of the puzzle that ultimately allow us to see the full picture – exactly what Danny knows about the murder and exactly why he’s so fearful of being deported. This is a heartbreaking and insightful portrayal of illegal status that feels more real than any other book I’ve read on the topic. While Amnesty is not the easiest of reads and not the most fast-paced of plots, I cherished my time with Danny, if only because the story opened the door to a painfully unique experience in living, loving, and trying to do the right thing while an illegal immigrant.

**Disclaimer – I know painfully little about the immigrant experience, and this is my first step into fiction around this topic. I will surely be digging in to more and continuing to make myself more informed.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts on Amnesty. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the novel in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya!

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