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 Singhand 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.
The Washington Post
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 ......
Et cetera, et cetera. It may sound exciting and engaging, but it isn't, and when the novel's climax finally occurs, it's the most anticlimactic climax I can recall. But it is, perhaps, a fitting climax to a book that, for all its ambition and intelligence, ends up going nowhere at all.
The San Francisco Chronicle - Sandip Roy
Make no mistake, "Sacred Games" is a thriller. It has shootouts, sexy sirens, cops and robbers, double-crossers and hardboiled gutter-pungent lingo. It's not for the squeamis ....[but it] is also a cocky experiment with the conventions of a thriller, breaking every rule a film director tells Gaitonde is needed for a successful formula film. Chandra adds long insets that break up the narrative to go into the back stories of peripheral characters .... Unlike a whodunit, Chandra's plot is hydra-headed ....
Rocky Mountain News - Clayton Moore
With its striking prose, ruthless capacity for violence and Gordian composition, Sacred Games offers up a world worthy of the effort required to take it all in.
The Plain Dealer - Karen Long
The novel oscillates splendidly between its two central characters... Chandra makes an enormous meal of Mumbai, the metropolis once called Bombay, each ingredient sharp and memorable... The imagery can be stunning... submerging in [Sacred Games] like the Ganges itself, can restore your wonder.
Entertainment Weekly - Jennifer Reese
There's a superabundance of tumultuous narrative, acres of magnificent prose, and maybe a dozen too many characters. Yet these unruly parts ultimately fit together into a chaotic and luminous whole, one that mirrors Chandra's capacious vision of his homeland.
Elle magazine - Jenny Feldman
...thanks to its muscular prose and Chandra's obvious fondness for even his most deeply flawed characters, the book also succeeds as an entertainment extravaganza: a detective novel in full, and then a good deal more.
Chandra also imbues his characters with humanity and color, even if his plot and writing style could do with tighter editing. Recommended.
The novel eventually becomes a world, and the reader becomes a resident rather than a visitor, but living there could begin to feel excessive.
Booklist - Donna Seaman
Starred Review. A splendidly big, finely made book destined to dazzle a big audience.
[Sacred Games] is Vikram Chandra's... stunning new novel... Chandra's writing is so elegant and so irresistible, it elevates the classic cops-and-robbers story to new heights.
The Scotsman - Stephen Thompson
All in all, this is a very patchy read. At the heart of the book is a very clever detective yarn which any crime writer would be proud of, but Chandra surrounds it with so much verbiage you could scream. Oh for a bit of judicious editing. At 900 pages, the book is too long. Chandra may have departed from the typical Indian novel in terms of subject matter, but when it comes to length, he reveals himself to be every bit the traditionalist. Sacred Games, alas, is the poorer because of this.
The Guardian - Kevin Rushby
Chandra works hard to keep the reader on board: after all, this is a mixed-up, muddled-up India where illiterate farmers chat on mobile phones and respectable people kill their daughters for marrying out of caste. It didn't, however, quite carry me all the way. Real-life Indian gangsters may have gone global, but somehow the world we enter later in the story - of high finance, hitmen and luxury yachts - seems best left to James Bond. Nevertheless, there is much to admire.
The Observer (UK) - Adams Mars-Jones
[Will] Chandra be able to etch into this second-hand template all the magical dirty details of the city? As the book goes on, the answer more and more seems to be 'yes', but Chandra could have made it easier on himself, not to mention the reader.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Judy Krueger A Bollywood Thriller Yes, this book is long. Yes, it is wordy and heavy to hold while reading. He uses many Indian words and though there is a glossary, it doesn't contain all the words he uses. But I liked it anyway.
The story has two main characters. Inspector... Read More
Vikram Chandra was born in 1961
in New Delhi. and completed most of his
secondary education at the prestigious
Mayo College boarding school in
Ajmer, Rajasthan. After a short stay at
St. Xavier's College in Mumbai, he
came to the United States as an
undergraduate student. In 1984, he
graduated from Pomona College (in
Claremont, near Los Angeles) with a
magna cum laude BA in English, with a
concentration in creative writing. He
then attended the Film School at
Columbia University in New York.
While in the Columbia library he
happened upon the autobiography of
Colonel James "Sikander" Skinner, a
legendary nineteenth century soldier,
born of an Indian mother and a British
father. This book inspired him to write
his first novel Red Earth and Pouring
Rain, most of which was written...
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