It is, it wants to be, a moral novel, not merely unfolding but inventing itself through its hero’s minute choices ... excels at the portrayal of this apparent paradox: In order to be invisible among these people, Danny must observe them obsessively ... One of the novel’s victories is that Adiga’s understanding of these (not so subtle) dynamics, while unflinching, manages to circumvent the Scylla of sentimentality and the Charybdis of political correctness. His sentences are moved by a reliable moral compass and his perception is clearsighted, but what the reader sees and feels is the solid, urgent predicament of one man: this Danny, this fully formed, cliché-breaking, flawed and endearing migrant in search of a new identity, of a place in the world he can call his own ... The Aristotelian constraints heighten meaning and imbue every small event with a sort of transcendent weight. It’s an old and venerable device, but in the hands of such a deft practitioner as Adiga it still yields great satisfactions. These strategies, however, are only the scaffolding on which Adiga hangs the slow revelation of his main character. Yes, one of the pleasures Amnesty affords us is to watch Adiga’s talents at work in such a restricted space; and yes, he is well served by his polyvalent prose, a wide-ranging instrument capable of a variety of tones, dictions and accents. But what makes Amnesty an urgent and significant book is the generosity and the humanity of its vision. The abstract issue of immigration, fodder for cheap politics, comes starkly alive in the story of this one man, his past troubles and his present conflict. Amnesty is an ample book, pertinent and necessary. It speaks to our times.
These are acute sociological insights, but in terms of a novelist’s more traditional skillset, Adiga is a little lacking in psychological intuition or stylistic craft ... Adiga unwisely burdens himself with a 24-hour structure, which is stymied by life’s inevitable mundanity ... Amnesty strains for significance in its hourly accounting of Danny’s day, edging into the perfunctory or worse, the inane ... Even Adiga’s flawed creation reminds us of the pleasure and understanding that can ensue when writers migrate out of their own experience.
... bracing ... I like to read Adiga’s novels almost as much as the poet James Dickey liked to drink. He has more to say than most novelists, and about 50 more ways to say it ... Adiga is a startlingly fine observer, and a complicator, in the manner of V.S. Naipaul ... Adiga is valuable because he attends to how people think, rather than how they should think. No one in his novels is simple to understand. Adiga may not agree with everything that gets said or thought, but there is no gauze on his mental windshield. Nice people are often skewered, as if on kabobs. Reading him you get a sense of having your finger on the planet’s pulse ... has a simmering plot ... Adiga’s plot clicks the novel forward along its tracks, but it’s packed with small implausibilities. You come to this novel for other reasons, notably for its author’s authority, wit and feeling on the subject of immigrants’ lives ... You can scoop Adiga’s smaller observations up like shrimp in a net.
The Booker Prize-winning writer Aravind Adiga brings fresh urgency to the issue [of the global migrant crisis] in his searing, inventive Amnesty ... Amnesty is Adiga’s most accomplished novel yet, a gorgeously crafted page-turner with brains and heart, illuminating the courage of displaced peoples and the cruelties of those who conspire against them.
... does Adiga create characters only to exploit their paradigms? ... Adiga shines when documenting the ways in which immigrants are marginalized by those who claim to care about them ... With crisp dialogue, constant movement and occasional flashbacks, Adiga shows Danny’s choice to close himself off as reasonable. Facing desperate consequences occasioned by one misplaced secret, Danny cannot afford to trust ... a soulful premise and a possible remedy for how global economic discourse retreats into statistics. In Danny, Adiga creates an archetype of the human condition — a manual laborer trapped by his basic needs, mired in lost hope for the flourishing of a botched migration. But no matter how taut the plot, Adiga’s spare secondary characters failed to break free of two dimensions ... While Amnesty succeeds in wrenching attention toward systemic injustice, its stylized, iterative interactions are too cursory to move past being concept demonstrations. Adiga provides just enough character development to support the assertion that yes, people are so like that, and here’s an antagonist to prove it.
The action in Amnesty...encompasses worlds within worlds ... it’s a quirky immersion in the sights and sounds of Sydney as viewed by a house cleaner who sees the city from a covert interloper’s point of view ... a near-hallucinatory guided tour of Australia's largest city ... Adiga...persuasively conveys the realities of Danny's refugee existence ... In fresh and playful prose that’s sometimes eccentrically paragraphed and punctuated, Adiga places you smack in the middle of Danny’s buzzing mind ... Some threads of the novel feel undeveloped ... With its pleasurably off-kilter sympathies and style, Amnesty compellingly captures Danny's tricky plight.
... exposes the struggles of undocumented immigrants while also spinning an irresistible mystery. The emotional wrestling Danny does in the pages of this book is expertly conveyed, and readers will feel just as conflicted and will understand the fears that haunt many undocumented immigrants around the world today. Danny’s inner thoughts are tediously repetitious at times, which may turn some readers away, but ultimately this adds to the unbearable nature of the moral dilemma. Exquisitely written with incredible insight and compassion, Amnesty is a relevant novel that shouldn’t be overlooked.
With a near-effortless writing style, Adiga conveys the daily life of an immigrant in a manner that builds empathy for Danny’s real-life counterparts—the hidden community members present almost everywhere in the world. And Danny is an enormously likable character. When he and the alleged killer spar in cat-and-mouse cellphone conversations, the reader experiences his anxiety. While Danny knows the killer’s identity, Prakash knows Danny’s immigration status, and the equivalent weight of the two pieces of information effectively communicate the high stakes involved. Amnesty stands as a timeless reminder that what is legal is not the same as what is ethical.
Though Adiga’s sympathies clearly lie with Danny, he’s careful not to telegraph the result of this dramatic confrontation. As Danny roams the streets of Sydney and wrestles with his conscience, we see glimpses of the anxiety of life in an 'archipelago of illegals, each isolated from the other and kept weak, and fearful, by this isolation.' Add to that troubling reality the weight of an ethical crisis of life-changing dimensions, and the result is a work of deeply consequential fiction.
The author successfully creates an atmosphere of unrelenting stress and paranoia that will remain in our mind long after reading his story. There are, however, several problems with Amnesty, and foremost of these is Adiga’s management of his chosen narrative technique. Fluctuating rather madly between interior monologue and exterior point of view, it peppers the reader with memories, fantasies, and current action in such a fractured presentation that it often confuses, zipping back and forth along Danny’s timeline in such a way as to interfere with the novel’s sense of continuity and its forward progress. His decision to expand from mainstream literary fiction to dabble in a popular genre, i.e. crime fiction, is also problematic ... An effective mystery novel requires multiple suspects, a process of detection, and a heaping portion of suspense added to the mix. Amnesty skimps on the first two, and the jumbled narrative style continually chokes off effective development of the third. Not to say that Amnesty is bereft of good writing. Danny is a character we experience and empathize with on multiple levels, and Adiga manipulates our sensibilities with regard to his protagonist ... His use of metaphor and symbolic imagery is, at times, extremely effective ... At the end of the day, inconsistencies and lack of narrative control hold Amnesty back from achieving its full potential. It’s a good novel, and worthy of your consideration, but not a great one.
Adiga suggests another level of indignity endured by the undocumented migrants who, like Danny, are forced to exist on the margins ... Amnesty takes place over the course of a few hours, from 8:46 in the morning through to the evening, but Adiga’s structured timing does not always work ... However, it is a tremendously humane read. Adiga underlines that it is the legitimate fear of being detained for an extended length of time that forces migrants underground ... Adiga is unwavering in the spotlight he trains on Australia’s hypocrisy — a country that promises a 'fair go' for all but treats its asylum seekers with hostility and contempt.
With documentary precision, Adiga portrays the exploitation, risks, danger, paranoia, dreadful living conditions, and psychological stress faced by undocumented refugees ... 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.
Adiga, who’s become a part-time Australian, again scrutinizes the human condition through a haves-vs.-have-nots filter with sly wit and narrative ingenuity ... Best-selling Adiga’s smart, funny, and timely tale with a crime spin of an undocumented immigrant will catalyze readers.
... taut, thrillerlike ... Adiga cannily balances his assured plotting with a style that evokes Danny's justified paranoia ... expertly translates that anxiety to the reader ... A well-crafted tale of entrapment, alert to the risk of exploitation that follows immigrants in a new country.
Adiga briskly captures an undocumented immigrant’s moral dilemma over whether to help the police solve a murder or remain under the radar in this engrossing tale ... With nuance and vivid faced by a range of Asian Australians while highlighting the dangers faced by the Tamils of Sri Lanka. Adiga’s enthralling depiction of one immigrant’s tough situation humanizes a complex and controversial global dilemma.