Book extract: ‘Amnesty’ by Aravind Adiga

Book extract: ‘Amnesty’ by Aravind Adiga

19 February 2020

Priyanka Mogul, Literature Programme Manager

Asia House is pleased to bring you an exclusive extract from Booker Prize winner Aravind Adiga’s new novel Amnesty.

Due to be published tomorrow (20 February 2020), Amnesty follows the story of a young Sri Lankan, “Danny”, who has overstayed his student visa in Sydney and rendered himself an illegal immigrant. The novel has already found its way onto The Guardian, Financial Times, The Millions, Vulture and Buzzfeed’s most anticipated of 2020 – and has been described as a “forceful, urgent thriller for our times” by Lit Hub.

But if you can’t wait until tomorrow, here’s a short extract from the book to wet your appetites and get you even more excited. 


The man behind the counter was burly, bearded, probably Bangladeshi, and, Danny thought, extremely legal.

You can tell from the way he watches you.

The brown man in a white man’s city who is watching other brown men. Danny had studied all the ways this was done, from the amiable glances of the Western Suburbs Indians, smug in their jobs and Toyota Camrys; the easily acquisitive Sab Theek Hai, Bhai? (or, more recently, the mysteriously Jamaican Hey, maaan) of the fresh new students in Haymarket, the ones who are running madly across roads; the ostentatiously indifferent I’ve got nothing in common with you, mate glances of the Australian-born children of doctors in Mosman or Castle Hill (Icebox Indians, Danny called them, because they always wore black glasses and never seemed to sweat, even in summer); and worst of all, those families visiting from Chennai or Malaysia, clicking photos of the beach, or loudly double-checking on the phone with relatives back home exactly which cholesterol medication or marsupial souvenir was needed from Australia. Man who has run from his family, you’re not natural, brown people told Danny, and he, with his innate instinct for double or nothing, had streaked his hair in a barbershop. Standing in front of a mirror, he had imitated the gaze of an Australian-born man: My father is a surgeon at Westmead Hospital. I don’t have time for immigrants like you. He had fixed his posture too. On the streets of Sydney, Pakistanis, Indians, Sri Lankans still looked at Danny, but now they looked with envy.

Easiest thing in the world, becoming invisible to white people, who don’t see you anyway; but the hardest thing is becoming invisible to brown people, who will see you no matter what. Since they must see me, Danny thought, let me be seen this way—not as a scared illegal with furtive eyes but as a native son of Sydney, a man with those golden highlights, with that erect back, that insolent indifference in every cell of his body. Let them observe that Danny is extremely icebox.

Not here, though. Because no one is icebox around Central Station.


Amnesty is published by Picador in hardback on 20 February 2020. Find out more and buy your copy here.