Friday, January 12, 2007

Vikram Chandra Media Onslaught

It was about a year ago that I did a short post on the Indian media's hyped approach to Vikram Chandra's Sacred Games.

Now the book has finally been released in the U.S., and the hype seems to have only grown.

New York Times review

New York Times profile

NPR

Pankaj Mishra's excellent review in the New Yorker

My mother-in-law actually brought Sacred Games for me from India a few months ago, but I let it languish. This week, prompted by a reporter's phone call, I finally picked it up. After 200 pages, I'm finding myself really drawn into the story; it's well-written, at the level of both paragraphs and chapters, and nicely structured.

9 comments:

Pooja said...

I look forward to reading your thoughts once you are done. The doorstop-of-a-book arrived on my doorstep this afternoon and I hope to crack its spine this long weekend.

Anonymous said...

This guy is everywhere. William Safire listed Vikram's novel in his top 20 predictions for 2007! Pretty amazing. I guess Mumbai name is maligned forever or is that giving a character? With Suketu Mehta's book, Mumbai is becoming a global metropolis in its own right, if it already isn't.

Cheap Martins said...

hmm.. Thanks for links to NYT

Anonymous said...

Spoilers below?

Mishra’s reading of the novel in “The New Yorker” is quite insightful. I wonder, though, if Sacred Games really falls prey to Sontag’s formula: the structure of the novel doesn’t allow it to end simply happily. Granted there is a sense of future for Sartaj and Mary. But this brief “final” ending is complicated by the more-developed visit to the Golden Temple. And certainly the question must be asked for whom does the novel end happily? Complicating the happy ending are the two last inserts treating the past: there is plenty of loss and sorrow, most acutely experienced by Sartaj’s family. The holocaust Sartaj’s mother lives through haunts the entire novel, returning in the end with the recognition of generational loss. The (untold) story of Maji’s sister leaves the child Sharmeen with a pervasive sense of loss—a history she’ll never know. The other insert story of Aadil, although perhaps too long, is unrelentingly grim, making complex and provocative connections between social conditions and moral consequences and character. It also brings full circle one of Sartaj’s deepest losses.

Anonymous said...

Spoilers below?

Mishra’s reading of the novel in “The New Yorker” is quite insightful. I wonder, though, if Sacred Games really falls prey to Sontag’s formula: the structure of the novel doesn’t allow it to end simply happily. Granted there is a sense of future for Sartaj and Mary. But this brief “final” ending is complicated by the more-developed visit to the Golden Temple. And certainly the question must be asked for whom does the novel end happily? Complicating the happy ending are the two last inserts treating the past: there is plenty of loss and sorrow, most acutely experienced by Sartaj’s family. The holocaust Sartaj’s mother lives through haunts the entire novel, returning in the end with the recognition of generational loss. The (untold) story of Maji’s sister leaves the child Sharmeen with a pervasive sense of loss—a history she’ll never know. The other insert story of Aadil, although perhaps too long, is unrelentingly grim, making complex and provocative connections between social conditions and moral consequences and character. It also brings full circle one of Sartaj’s deepest losses.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you've noticed, Amardeep, but the gaalis in the NYT review (which were mentioned in siddhartha's sepia mutiny post) have now gone! Looks like someone finally told the New York Times what they printed! Hee hee. Or maybe Paul Gray just looked at the glossary. (Are the offending words in the glossary?)

Original line (from the post):

So it goes here. Those who plunge into the novel soon find themselves thrashing in a sea of words (“nullah,” “ganwars,” “bigha,” “lodu,” “bhenchod,” “tapori,” “maderchod”) and sentences (“On Maganchand Road the thela-wallahs already had their fruit piled high, and the fishsellers were laying out bangda and bombil and paaplet on their slabs”) unencumbered by italics or explication.

Now:

So it goes here. Those who plunge into the novel soon find themselves thrashing in a sea of words and sentences (“On Maganchand Road the thela-wallahs already had their fruit piled high, and the fishsellers were laying out bangda and bombil and paaplet on their slabs”) unencumbered by italics or explication.

If someone objected, I wonder who it was...

Amardeep said...

Shreeharsh, actually I hadn't noticed. The disappearance suggests they didn't know the meaning of the words they had listed before -- it's a kind of admission they screwed up, don't you think?

I myself didn't know "lodu" initially. Thanks to Kush Tandon, I know it now.

tilotamma said...

a'deep -- waiting to read your review of
Guru

Shodan said...

As someone who's spent most of his life in Mumbai, I was pleasantly surprised by Bambaiya details in this book.

Also notable: Mumbai-specific details are used to tell a story. It's not empty insider posing.

Shreeharsh,
Bhen**** and other romantic words are in the glossary.