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Sacred Games

by Vikram Chandra

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,881477,155 (3.85)191
Receiving an anonymous tip that could lead to the capture of a powerful criminal overlord, Bombay police officer Sartaj Singh is nearing his goal when he realizes that his imminent confrontation with the crime lord is part of a more sinister agenda.
  1. 10
    Red Earth and Pouring Rain by Vikram Chandra (amygdala)
  2. 21
    Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (oliver40274, VisibleGhost)
    oliver40274: A wonderfully written saga that takes you into Bombay life on the streets.
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» See also 191 mentions

English (40)  French (2)  Italian (2)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All languages (47)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
One of my favorite books ever. It's why I read. ( )
  ByronDB | May 17, 2022 |
Sacred Games is massive - in its scope, its cast of characters, the time and geography it spans, and its size of close to a thousand pages! It took me a lot of time - years - just to start reading it and, happily and sadly, took me far less time - about a month - to actually read it. It begins with a regular day at work for Mumbai Police Inspector Sartaj Singh - the only Sikh one in the entire city - and spreads on to acquire multiple strands of stories, of many different people, from many different places and times, that come together at the end - some more seamlessly than the others. It is very difficult for me to summarise the entire book for the purpose of this little review. So, I will just say that it was a fantastic experience to get immersed in this mammoth sea of stories, though quite exasperating at times due to long-winded philosophical discourses by various characters, and enjoy the author's effortlessly engaging prose. A bit more coherence, some better defined connection among the numerous strands, would have made it a five-star read in my opinion, and I would rate it a star less due to this. ( )
  aravind_aar | Nov 21, 2021 |
Much better than the tv show ( )
  rishi42 | Aug 15, 2020 |
it got off to a good start and i thought it was going to be a tasty, epic read. but the writing and characters turned cliche and trite after the first hundred pages, and remained that way until a single nice chapter at the end. not bad enough to stop reading, but not worth recommending. ( )
  reg_lt | Feb 7, 2020 |
This doorstopper weighs 780 grams and has 947 pp. not including the glossary (which I am very thankful was included) or the other P.S. material included by Harper. However I never felt I was bogging down in detail or wishing it would just conclude. It was an eye-opening read about India and I am glad I finally read this book.

It's hard for me to condense this book into a paragraph or two but I'll give it a try. The main story involves a policeman in Mumbai, one Sartaj Singh. His father was also a policeman but he has been dead for some time. His mother, who was born in the Punjab which became part of Pakistan after Partition, was still alive but lived outside of Mumbai in a small hill town. As would be obvious to anyone from the Indian subcontinent Sartaj Singh is a Sikh. He is divorced so he spends most of his waking hours working. One day he gets a phone call in the early morning telling him where he can find the notorious crime boss Ganesh Gaitonde. This is quite a coup because Gaitonde was thought to be in hiding outside of India. Gaitonde is living in an almost indestructible underground bunker and before Sartaj manages to break down the upper structure he talks at some length to Sartaj. As Sartaj breaks in Gaitonde shoots himself; there is also the body of a woman in the bunker with him. Before Sartaj can really do a proper investigation the case is taken over by members of the Indian spy agency. However, Sartaj is asked to do some work on the case and doing so he discovers that the dead woman was JoJo Mascarenas, a television producer and agent for actors and actresses. This brings him into contact with JoJo's sister, Mary, with whom he falls in love. He also helps uncover a plot by the Pakistani government to flood the Indian economy with fake money and another plot by a religious zealot to explode a nuclear device in Mumbai. Sartaj also has more mundane duties like intervening in a marital dispute and picking up bribes for his superior officer. Sartaj is not a perfect person but the reader can't help but like him.

The main plot is interspersed with other narrative threads with one very significant exploration of Ganesh Gaitonde's life which his spirit narrates after his corporeal death. This is a look at the dark underbelly of Mumbai and beyond and it should have been highly distasteful but was somehow fascinating (sort of like looking at a traffic accident as you drive by). There was also a thread about how the Indian Partition affected Sartaj's mother and her family which was heartbreaking.

There are characters from all the different religions in India which I found particularly interesting. Chandra shows everyone as having good and bad qualities just as real people do. One comes away from reading this book with an admiration for how well the Indian society works despite all the different beliefs. ( )
  gypsysmom | Mar 29, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vikram Chandraprimary authorall editionscalculated
Orsini, FrancescaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Anuradha Tandon and S. Hussain Zaidi
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A white Pomeranian named Fluffy flew out of a fifth-floor window in Panna, which was a brand-new building with the painter's scaffolding still around it.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Receiving an anonymous tip that could lead to the capture of a powerful criminal overlord, Bombay police officer Sartaj Singh is nearing his goal when he realizes that his imminent confrontation with the crime lord is part of a more sinister agenda.

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Sartaj Singh, ispettore Sikh della polizia di Bombay, è un uomo sulle cui spalle pesano un matrimonio fallito, una carriera perennemente all'ombra di un padre ingombrante e irraggiungibile, e una solitudine che ogni giorno si fa più opprimente. Vive e lavora in una città che oltre a fargli dono della sua sensuale bellezza lo aggredisce con una violenza e una corruzione alle quali non si è mai assuefatto e contro le quali non riesce a segnare significative vittorie. Un mattino però il telefono squilla, una voce chiede, brusca: "Vuoi Ganesh Gaitonde?". Gaitonde, il temutissimo, imprendibile gangster, si trova infatti asserragliato in una casa-bunker alla periferia della città, e ha in serbo mille storie da raccontare. Storie di conquista e di sconfitta, di uomini e donne presi dal rapace meccanismo del vivere e del morire in nome di cause giuste, sbagliate, o, senza nessuna ragione. A partire da Sartaj e Ganesh si snoda così davanti al lettore una narrazione fluente e fascinosa che assume pian piano l'enigmatica fisionomia di un arazzo in cui la disordinata molteplicità del mondo trova un suo inesplicabile e tuttavia perfetto disegno. Il pedinamento di pericolosi criminali e lo smascheramento di trame delittuose che coinvolgono i livelli più diversi della società indiana servono così da pretesto a Chandra per raccontare una storia che unisce i ritmi serrati dell''hard boiled' e le pause silenziose della poesia, il sentimentalismo alla Bollywood e il magistero dell'alta letteratura. Amore, potere, guerra, luoghi eterni della vita e del narrare, si stampano così, pagina dopo pagina, sul corpo dell'unico, vero protagonista di questo incantevole romanzo: la città di Bombay, l'odierna Mumbai, crogiuolo di una contemporaneità globalizzata che però reca in sé, tenaci e antichissime, le proprie radici d'oriente. Immergersi nel suo incessante brulichio significa tuffarsi nel fiume vivo del presente che ci circonda e al tempo stesso mettersi in ascolto dell'eco indistinta di miriadi di esistenze e di vicende passate. Per questo "Giochi sacri" è uno di quei libri che cambiano la vita.
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