Sacred Games, by Vikram Chandra

This spellbinding novel paints a vivid and enthralling picture of contemporary Mumbai, ranging from the utterly chronic corruption of the Indian state to the desperation of millions shut out of the ‘economic miracle’. But Chandra is no dour realist: his prose is a delight and carries the densely epic plot with an elegance that offers moments of uproarious hilarity inseparably mixed with heartbreak. Police, gangsters, far-right Hindu nationalists and secret service operatives engage in a kaleidoscopic power struggle with minimal democratic interference. The analytical perspective is liberal rather than left-wing, but reading Sacred Games is a thrilling and fantastic experience. AB

Faber and Faber; 2007; 960 pages

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Language ought to be the joint creation of poets and manual workers. George Orwell

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