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Sacred Games: A Novel

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Sacred Games: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780061130359
ISBN10: 0061130354
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Staff Pick

"Sacred Games is a brilliant crime epic, which impressively balances a literary detective and gangster story with a cinematically violent tale of contemporary Bombay. One of Chandra's most remarkable achievements amidst this novel of marvels is his ability to turn mundane moments into extraordinary ones; a father's lovingly ritualized inquiries into his sons' hygiene are just as compelling as far higher octane scenes of crime and gang wars. The overall effect for the reader is to have the breadth and depth of Bombay's peoples exposed and made immediate, highlighting the manner in which the city's impressive violence touches all in Chandra's perfect circle."
Recommended by Brodie, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Seven years in the making, Sacred Games is an epic of exceptional richness and power. Vikram Chandra's novel draws the reader deep into the life of Inspector Sartaj Singh — and into the criminal underworld of Ganesh Gaitonde, the most wanted gangster in India.

Sartaj, one of the very few Sikhs on the Mumbai police force, is used to being identified by his turban, beard and the sharp cut of his trousers. But "the silky Sikh" is now past forty, his marriage is over and his career prospects are on the slide. When Sartaj gets an anonymous tip-off as to the secret hide-out of the legendary boss of G-Company, he's determined that he'll be the one to collect the prize.

Vikram Chandra's keenly anticipated new novel is a magnificent story of friendship and betrayal, of terrible violence, of an astonishing modern city and its dark side. Drawing inspiration from the classics of nineteenth-century fiction, mystery novels, Bollywood movies and Chandra's own life and research on the streets of Mumbai, Sacred Games evokes with devastating realism the way we live now but resonates with the intelligence and emotional depth of the best of literature.

Review:

"Mumbai in all its seedy glory is at the center of Vikram Chandra's episodic novel, which follows the fortunes of two opposing characters: the jaded Sikh policeman, Sartaj Singh, who first appeared in the story 'Kama,' and Ganesh Gaitonde, a famous Hindu Bhai who 'dallied with bejewelled starlets, bankrolled politicians' and whose 'daily skim from Bombay's various criminal dhandas was said to be greater than annual corporate incomes.' Sartaj, still handsome and impeccably turned out, is now divorced, weary and resigned to his post, complicit in the bribes and police brutality that oil the workings of his city. Sartaj is ambivalent about his choices, but Gaitone is hungry for position and wealth from the moment he commits his first murder as a young man. A confrontation between the two men opens the novel, with Gaitonde taunting Sartaj from inside the protection of his strange shell-like bunker. Gaitonde is the more riveting character, and his first-person narrative voice lulls the reader with his intuitive understanding of human nature and the 1,001 tales of his rise to power, as he collects men, money and fame; creates and falls in love with a movie star; infiltrates Bollywood; works for Indian intelligence; matches wits with his Muslim rival, Suleiman Isa; and searches for fulfillment with the wily Guru Shridhar Shukla. Sartaj traces Gaitonde's movements and motivations, while taking on cases of murder, blackmail and neighborhood quarrels. The two men ruminate on the meaning of life and death, and Chandra connects them as he connects all the big themes of the subcontinent: the animosity of caste and religion, the poverty, the prostitution and mainly, the criminal elite, who organize themselves on the model of corporations and control their fiefdoms from outside the country. Chandra, who's won prizes and praise for his two previous books, Red Earth and Pouring Rain and Love and Longing in Bombay, spent seven years writing this 900-page epic of organized crime and the corruption that spins out from Mumbai into the world of international counterfeiting and terrorism, and it's obvious that he knows what he's talking about. He takes his chances creating atmosphere: the characters speak in the slang of the city ('You bhenchod sleepy son of maderchod Kumbhkaran,' Gaitonde chastises). The novel eventually becomes a world, and the reader becomes a resident rather than a visitor, but living there could begin to feel excessive." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"The enthusiasm with which the venerable firm of HarperCollins is promoting this massive deadweight of a novel, and the money that it's putting where its mouth is, leaves one to ponder once again the eternally mysterious ways of the book-publishing industry. Certainly, Vikram Chandra is a writer of some talent, and he has a couple of British Commonwealth prizes to show for it, yet how is one to explain... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"[A] riveting epic....Chandra has created a compulsively involving literary thriller by drawing on the Mahabharata and aiming for the amplitude of Victorian novels....A splendidly big, finely made book destined to dazzle a big audience." Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"Chandra's gangster world is dynamic, occasionally absurd, and replete with social commentary and philosophic observations....Chandra also imbues his characters with humanity and color, even if his plot and writing style could do with tighter editing. Recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"Chandra manages to forge an intimacy between the reader and the two often morally unattractive men who rage across these 900 pages....Sacred Games is both riveting and brilliantly vile." Time Out

Review:

"[A] ravishing, overexuberant stab at the Great Indian Novel, an extraordinary work of fiction that will reward you in full for your investment of time, though not without occasionally testing your patience. (Grade: B+)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"[O]ne of those books you immerse yourself in, a passport to an alien world and, like life, you imagine it could go on forever." Newsday

Review:

"It's not everyday that one reads a 900-page tome that's this good." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Review:

"It is a terrific, brilliant, earthmover of a book...and it has understandably made Chandra quite a bit famous back in India." San Antonio Express-News

Review:

"One of the coolest things about Sacred Games is the crash course it offers in 21st century Indian society and especially the life of Mumbai....Chandra's genius is in the way he trusts his readers." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"[An] immense, demanding novel....The appeal of Sacred Games lies in its mix of several commercially reliable formulas...along with considerable helpings of sex and violence plus enough genre-bending twists to keep pulp aficionados off balance and intrigued." Paul Gray, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"Unstinting in its ambition...flourishing in its characters...[an] intriguing act of literary decolonization....Sacred Games is cinematic in scope." Newsweek (International Edition)

Review:

"It has shootouts, sexy sirens, cops and robbers, double-crossers and hardboiled gutter-pungent lingo. It's not for the squeamish. The violence is bone-crunching." San Francisco Chronicle

Synopsis:

Set in present-day Mumbai, Sacred Games tells the story of a notorious Hindu gangster and a police inspector whose lives unfold and eventually intersect with cataclysmic consequences. Reaching back in time to Partition and bringing to vivid life a profusion of characters and milieus, Chandra's extraordinary work depicts India with an unsurpassed richness of detail: its complexity and violence, the worlds of the poor and the wealthy, the heroes of Bollywood movies and the striving of human beings from every walk of life. As the story unfolds with surprising twists at every turn, the great game takes shape, confounding everyone's expectations. Winning is an illusion, and characters powerful and humble find themselves mere pawns, struggling to regain control of their destinies.

Quintessentially Indian yet surprisingly universal, Chandra's book evokes brilliantly and with devastating realism the way we live now. A gripping epic saga, Sacred Games is filled with humour, tragedy and characters who prove to be all too human.

About the Author

Vikram Chandra was born in New Delhi. His first novel, Red Earth and Pouring Rain (1995), won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book and the David Higham Prize for Fiction. His collection of short stories, Love and Longing in Bombay (1997), won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book (Eurasia Region) and was a New York Times Notable Book. Vikram Chandra divides his time between Mumbai and Berkeley, where he teaches at the University of California. His work has been translated into eleven languages.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

rrosas, February 8, 2010 (view all comments by rrosas)
Sacred Games was an awesome book. The intertwining of lives between the detective and Ganesh and where they had come from and where they ended up was priceless. It was an illuminating look into life in India and its culture. I couldn't put it down. It was rather like the Godfather in India in terms of storylines. I hope Vikram Chandra writes more!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
lee kissick, February 10, 2008 (view all comments by lee kissick)
A good read. I enjoyed the ample details and backstory provided to delineate a country I have never tried hard enough to understand previously. Some of the plot was embarrassingly simplistic (the romance between Sardjay and the Christian was crude and silly as any Bollywood production). But, jeez, I was unable to put it aside for more than a day. I didn't read it in a sitting or 2, but I was eager to resume the story daily. Best of all, like all good fiction, it helped define a real place and its history better than a non-fictional work could have. I have missed big, fun novels like this.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(7 of 16 readers found this comment helpful)
paul sorenson, May 6, 2007 (view all comments by paul sorenson)
Chandra has written a huge, churning tale that combines detective mystery, international thriller and religious pilgrimage - with a a fascinating view into current life in India. Set mostly in Mumbai (Bombay), but ranging throughout Asia, this book takes commitment (at 900 pages), but is well paced and full of interesting (though sometimes a bit simplistically drawn) characters that (I at least) will likely never meet in my life. I found the complicated narrative simple to follow and gripping - deftly showing how loyaltry between friends and family (blood or extended) holds people together in a setting rife with violence, graft, greed and betrayal. A pervasive backdrop of cultural and religious intolerance provides a nice counterpoint to one of the characters' ultimately futile attempt to find spiritual peace.
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(11 of 21 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 4 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780061130359
Author:
Chandra, Vikram
Publisher:
Harper Torch
Author:
by Vikram Chandra
Subject:
Thrillers
Subject:
Police
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - General
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - Police Procedural
Subject:
Gangsters
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Bombay (india)
Subject:
Police - India - Bombay
Subject:
Mystery-A to Z
Subject:
Literary
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
January 9, 2007
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
928
Dimensions:
9.28x6.46x2.01 in. 2.71 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Contemporary Thrillers

Sacred Games: A Novel Used Hardcover
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$8.95 In Stock
Product details 928 pages HarperCollins Publishers - English 9780061130359 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

"Sacred Games is a brilliant crime epic, which impressively balances a literary detective and gangster story with a cinematically violent tale of contemporary Bombay. One of Chandra's most remarkable achievements amidst this novel of marvels is his ability to turn mundane moments into extraordinary ones; a father's lovingly ritualized inquiries into his sons' hygiene are just as compelling as far higher octane scenes of crime and gang wars. The overall effect for the reader is to have the breadth and depth of Bombay's peoples exposed and made immediate, highlighting the manner in which the city's impressive violence touches all in Chandra's perfect circle."

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Mumbai in all its seedy glory is at the center of Vikram Chandra's episodic novel, which follows the fortunes of two opposing characters: the jaded Sikh policeman, Sartaj Singh, who first appeared in the story 'Kama,' and Ganesh Gaitonde, a famous Hindu Bhai who 'dallied with bejewelled starlets, bankrolled politicians' and whose 'daily skim from Bombay's various criminal dhandas was said to be greater than annual corporate incomes.' Sartaj, still handsome and impeccably turned out, is now divorced, weary and resigned to his post, complicit in the bribes and police brutality that oil the workings of his city. Sartaj is ambivalent about his choices, but Gaitone is hungry for position and wealth from the moment he commits his first murder as a young man. A confrontation between the two men opens the novel, with Gaitonde taunting Sartaj from inside the protection of his strange shell-like bunker. Gaitonde is the more riveting character, and his first-person narrative voice lulls the reader with his intuitive understanding of human nature and the 1,001 tales of his rise to power, as he collects men, money and fame; creates and falls in love with a movie star; infiltrates Bollywood; works for Indian intelligence; matches wits with his Muslim rival, Suleiman Isa; and searches for fulfillment with the wily Guru Shridhar Shukla. Sartaj traces Gaitonde's movements and motivations, while taking on cases of murder, blackmail and neighborhood quarrels. The two men ruminate on the meaning of life and death, and Chandra connects them as he connects all the big themes of the subcontinent: the animosity of caste and religion, the poverty, the prostitution and mainly, the criminal elite, who organize themselves on the model of corporations and control their fiefdoms from outside the country. Chandra, who's won prizes and praise for his two previous books, Red Earth and Pouring Rain and Love and Longing in Bombay, spent seven years writing this 900-page epic of organized crime and the corruption that spins out from Mumbai into the world of international counterfeiting and terrorism, and it's obvious that he knows what he's talking about. He takes his chances creating atmosphere: the characters speak in the slang of the city ('You bhenchod sleepy son of maderchod Kumbhkaran,' Gaitonde chastises). The novel eventually becomes a world, and the reader becomes a resident rather than a visitor, but living there could begin to feel excessive." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[A] riveting epic....Chandra has created a compulsively involving literary thriller by drawing on the Mahabharata and aiming for the amplitude of Victorian novels....A splendidly big, finely made book destined to dazzle a big audience."
"Review" by , "Chandra's gangster world is dynamic, occasionally absurd, and replete with social commentary and philosophic observations....Chandra also imbues his characters with humanity and color, even if his plot and writing style could do with tighter editing. Recommended."
"Review" by , "Chandra manages to forge an intimacy between the reader and the two often morally unattractive men who rage across these 900 pages....Sacred Games is both riveting and brilliantly vile."
"Review" by , "[A] ravishing, overexuberant stab at the Great Indian Novel, an extraordinary work of fiction that will reward you in full for your investment of time, though not without occasionally testing your patience. (Grade: B+)"
"Review" by , "[O]ne of those books you immerse yourself in, a passport to an alien world and, like life, you imagine it could go on forever."
"Review" by , "It's not everyday that one reads a 900-page tome that's this good."
"Review" by , "It is a terrific, brilliant, earthmover of a book...and it has understandably made Chandra quite a bit famous back in India."
"Review" by , "One of the coolest things about Sacred Games is the crash course it offers in 21st century Indian society and especially the life of Mumbai....Chandra's genius is in the way he trusts his readers."
"Review" by , "[An] immense, demanding novel....The appeal of Sacred Games lies in its mix of several commercially reliable formulas...along with considerable helpings of sex and violence plus enough genre-bending twists to keep pulp aficionados off balance and intrigued."
"Review" by , "Unstinting in its ambition...flourishing in its characters...[an] intriguing act of literary decolonization....Sacred Games is cinematic in scope."
"Review" by , "It has shootouts, sexy sirens, cops and robbers, double-crossers and hardboiled gutter-pungent lingo. It's not for the squeamish. The violence is bone-crunching."
"Synopsis" by , Set in present-day Mumbai, Sacred Games tells the story of a notorious Hindu gangster and a police inspector whose lives unfold and eventually intersect with cataclysmic consequences. Reaching back in time to Partition and bringing to vivid life a profusion of characters and milieus, Chandra's extraordinary work depicts India with an unsurpassed richness of detail: its complexity and violence, the worlds of the poor and the wealthy, the heroes of Bollywood movies and the striving of human beings from every walk of life. As the story unfolds with surprising twists at every turn, the great game takes shape, confounding everyone's expectations. Winning is an illusion, and characters powerful and humble find themselves mere pawns, struggling to regain control of their destinies.

Quintessentially Indian yet surprisingly universal, Chandra's book evokes brilliantly and with devastating realism the way we live now. A gripping epic saga, Sacred Games is filled with humour, tragedy and characters who prove to be all too human.

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