Stephen Lee, October 21, 2014 (view all comments by Stephen Lee)
Thought I'd chime in here and do a little passionate book babbling. If you love to read two pound books that are rich with detail, plot and sub plot, unforgettable characters, lavish backdrops and all with a very definitive philosophical cast and yes breathtaking scenes where ounces of pages pour through your hands and of course hours vanish, where time slows down yet speeds up making an extra cup or two of coffee in am necessary to negotiate the realities of the day, this is for you! For those in the Northern latitudes that find the light dwindling and the hearth reignited here is a story. Not always kind and pretty but intrinsically satisfying and oh sooo good.
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!
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.
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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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Kirk, January 25, 2007 (view all comments by Kirk)
Even though this book is 928 pages long, I read it in a weekend and wished it had gone on for another 928 pages. I enjoyed getting to know the characters, while trying to come up with the solution to the mystery. Chandra has written a wonderful book that will appeal to a large audience if they'll accept that the length is worth the time they'll invest.
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"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 Publishers Weekly,
"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.)
by Booklist (Starred 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."
by Library Journal,
"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."
by Time Out,
"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."
by Entertainment Weekly,
"[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+)"
"[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."
by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,
"It's not everyday that one reads a 900-page tome that's this good."
by San Antonio Express-News,
"It is a terrific, brilliant, earthmover of a book...and it has understandably made Chandra quite a bit famous back in India."
by Los Angeles Times,
"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."
by Paul Gray, The New York Times Book 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."
by Newsweek (International Edition),
"Unstinting in its ambition...flourishing in its characters...[an] intriguing act of literary decolonization....Sacred Games is cinematic in scope."
by San Francisco Chronicle,
"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."
by Harper Collins,
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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