Monday, Sep 20, 2021
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Singing The Song Of Gaitonde

For your money, this is the great Bombay book of the last decade: it explains your loyalty to the city.

Singing The Song Of Gaitonde
Singing The Song Of Gaitonde
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Vikram Chandra, born in 1961, announced his arrival in 1995 with the publication of a tender, exuberant, unruly novel, Red Earth and Pouring Rain. The book was 500-plus pages and extraordinarily ambitious in its two-fisted, its excessive bravado. His new novel is almost double that size, but it seems trimmer in a way: it tells one big story. A vertiginous crime thriller in the style of a Hindi potboiler, Sacred Games has two heroes, but its true star is the impossible, and impossibly seductive city of Bombay.

Sartaj Singh, a policeman, is the book’s moral centre, though morality here is a relative condition. He takes bribes—after all, he is a Bombay cop and a realist—but not from those who cannot afford it. He is past 40, divorced, a lone wolf. The reader is privy to his meals, his solitude and desire, his bitterness. In these ways he is reminiscent of characters in police procedural and noir novels, although he doesn’t drink enough. And although the word ‘hero’ is regularly thrown his way, he is upstaged by Ganesh Gaitonde, a career criminal,...

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