Love and Longing in Bombay
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Love and Longing in Bombay

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  1,447 ratings  ·  86 reviews
On the heels of his award-winning and extravagantly praised first novel, RED EARTH AND POURING RAIN, Vikram Chandra offers five ingeniously linked stories--a love story, a mystery, a ghost story, and other tales spun by an elusive narrator sitting in a smoky Bombay bar. Critics around the world have embraced the book as a major work by this exciting young writer.
Paperback, 272 pages
Published October 1st 1998 by Back Bay Books (first published March 1st 1997)
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John
I bought Chandra's immense novel Sacred Games a little while ago. While it looks to be wonderful, I've been a bit intimidated by the sheer size of the thing. So this collection of five stories -- one short novel plus four in the novelette/novella range -- seemed a reasonable means of warming myself up to Chandra's work, as it were.

The five pieces are called "Dharma", "Shakti", "Kama", "Artha" and "Shanti". Shamefully I had to look up the meanings of these terms; I'll give shorthand versions, wh...more
T.
I spent 12 years trying to remember a story which I'd read in the New Yorker, and loved. For years I tried to reconstruct scraps of what I remembered about the story--practically nothing, except the image of a woman's fingers flying over a telephone keypad. Not the author's name, not the character's name, and certainly not the name of the story. Since it was set in India, I thought it might be by an Indian writer, but I wasn't sure.

At last I found it by exhaustively combing the New Yorker's onli...more
Jigar Brahmbhatt
Here's a real good writer. All the stories contained in this book are well-drawn, its characters deeply sketched. There is nothing shallow here, and the joy of the language is immense. I liked the way Chandra has linked the different genera by a frame story: all the tales are told by a retired old man, who whiles away his time in a dingy bar off Sasoon Docks in Bombay. In fact, the tales could have taken place in any city in India, but it just happens to be Bombay, the muse of urban Indian write...more
Larou
A while back, I read Vikram Chandra’s debut novel Red Earth and Pouring Rain, and loved it – it was everything Magical Realism always promises to be but so rarely really is – it combines a rich, sensual writing that lets the reader soak in the sights, sound and smells of a vivdly evoked reality with a fertile, proliferating imagination that transforms that reality into something even richer and stranger but which still gives us a perspective on our world as it is – distorts it into clarity, to a...more
dely
The idea of five stories to talk about the purushartha is nice but I have found the stories a little bit boring. For me they were all ok reads but nothing more.

L'idea di Vikram Chandra, di scrivere cinque brevi racconti per parlare dei purushartha, è carina e originale; peccato che le storie siano leggermente noiose.
Vinitha
I liked Vikram Chandra's writing - I find it poetic and very dramatic. I am sure it is not for everyone. This book is like a Bollywood movie - every detail in the surrounding is described to perfection and it just flows together.

I am glad I picked this one
Diana
Not stunning- definitely not a must read but interesting nonetheless. Short stories were sometimes hard to follow and the use of Hindi in the text was not often clear for those who can't speak the language.
Varun
Elegant sentences wonderfully crafted into 5 short stories. Narrated by a retired civil servant in a dingy proletariat bar of our good ol' Bombay, the tales are within themselves splendidly sketched in its minute details and poignant albeit grim realities. Dharma, Shakti, Kama, Artha and Shanti demonstrate the story-teller's answer to vexing questions that come from a software company employee who is seemingly depressed and sad. Cinematic and easy on the eyes, the stories are vivid and imaginati...more
Martin Boyle
A chance purchase from our local Oxfam bookshop with no idea what I was letting myself in for - just a couple of dips into the pages in different places told me that here was a master of words that I wanted to read. (Try, for example, "It was only a little stumble, but the officers who surrounded him turned away out of sympathy, because he was Jago Antia, and he never stumbled.") Oh, and I like short stories.

Chandra doesn't disappoint. Five gems in 260 or so pages linked both through the storyte...more
Justin
Five intricately linked stories named after five tenets of Buddhism
Nelson
A loose-knit set of narratives about narrative. A too sure of himself main narrator bumps into an old storyteller whose tales open up the main narrator to a wider sense of the world, of possibility and, most of all, to the city in which the tales are set: Bombay. All in all, a love letter to the city, one that bids fair to challenge Rushdie's work for biggest homer. Some tales are better than others. "Dharma" is a wonderful, bittersweet story of duty and sacrifice that doubles as a ghost story w...more
Neha
Another book with Longing in its name.. and its theme too.. its true when they say that we all long for something.. some just know it and some don’t .. and its never ending.. one desire fulfilled leads to another and we live our lives longing for fulfilment. All in all life is a vicious circle of longing and what do we desire the most – love...

I have not been a fan of Vikram Chandra after reading ‘Red Earth and Pouring Rain’ and even ‘Sacred Games’ was just a decent read. But you can’t go much...more
Mallory
Five short stories about life in modern (20th century) India are intertwined by the same narrator as he sits in a bar with friends. Each story has an element of mystery, though not all are solved conclusively. However, all are as vivid and colorful as the front cover of this book. Chandra makes the ordinary and everyday come brilliantly alive. It doesn’t even matter if you recognize or understand completely the Indian words sprinkled throughout; somehow, you just know (or can imagine) what they...more
Srinath
A wonderful collection of five stories all interlinked in an ingenious manner. All except one are set in Bombay. Chandra's brilliant story-telling grips you from the word go.

In the murder mystery detective story Kama, the detective Sartaj Singh who is going through a troubled marriage , becomes deeply involved in a murder mystery. This Police Inspector Sartaj Singh is the character that has a big presence in Chandra's other book "The Sacred Games" too.

Vikram Chandra's characters exert a kind of...more
Jen
I first read this book in the Philippines and promptly took it out of hte library when I returned. I don't usually re-read books or short storis, but I've actually read this oee a few times. It sticks with me. I think its the deliciousness of hte characterers and hwo I feel as though I've been to Bomay and knows its landmarks and mood after reading these stories. The first one about the ghost in the old home is not my favourtie, but the Sikh detective, the computer software syspense tale, the so...more
Madeline
The five stories in Love and Longing in Bombay are connected in a few ways: they're all told through the same character, to the narrator, at varying degrees of distance; they're all really about Bombay (except, perhaps, "Shanti," the final story); they're all about some kind of love; they're all really, really about storytelling. I liked that Chandra uses the stories to explore a variety of genres, linking the stories through framing device and theme while exploring other areas in each individua...more
Lori Kincaid
I read a good bit of fiction by Indian authors. I have a deep connection to the subcontinent and try to learn about the culture through current literature. I have truly enjoyed works by Lahiri, Mistry and others. Their stories captured me.

Having giving that disclaimer, I truly did not like this book. Chandra is a gifted writer, no doubt, but I felt no connection to his characters, to their stories. Even though the stories were relatively short, I found myself having difficulty following them bec...more
Annette
As with many books of short stories some resonate more than others, but what is consistent in this volume is the superb quality of Chandra's English; clear, evocative and often lyrical. Within the longest story in the book, ' Kama' there is one of the most beautifully love scenes I have ever experienced. The characters are diverse, wonderfully drawn, and their stories potent.
Heather
I really enjoyed a few of the stories in this book, but plodded through a couple, disinterested.
Overall i thought Chandra's writing was beautiful, rich and vivid. It was, i believe, the pace that bothered me. The stories did not have the pace or structure that i expect from short stories. I would feel as though i was reading a novel and then the story would end abruptly.
I loved the experience of being transported to india, and feeling another culture, another worldview, but the use of SO MANY ?...more
Anagha
story telling skills of the author are just great. ... sketching of characters is very elaborate and attractive. ..
about stories ... among five stories... not each one is perfect. .. bt just loved some of them... u just cant forget some of them ... rather u ll remember these stories when u get across such characters in ur life
Benjamin
Love and Longing consists of five (very) loosely-related short stories. Most are gripping, and all are well-written. The different voices and styles of each story speak to Chandra's talent.

my favorite quote: "I tried for a minute to explain to Ma-ji that the question she was supposed to be asking was not exactly 'Where's Picasso, mother-fucker?,' but she was standing on the chair with such fierce exultation in her arms, having so much fun, and now the kids below were chanting with her, that it s...more
Harpreet
This is one hell of an imaginative book! The stories are extremely vivid and explicit, and the descriptions take you into the story and bring you right next to the character @ that moment. There were parts of the book where I was slightly confused but overall the book just immerses you in its detailed stories. Also, there are many different aspects and views of love depicted in this book. It's not standard or the cliche Indian normative, there's a broader and a more open point of view of love a...more
Zainab
This is a collection of 5 short stories. It took me a long time to read this book, as I didn't like the 1st story and thought the rest of the book would be similarly uninteresting. But the subsequent stories were much better, and the last one really tied it all up beautifully. the 5th story is special because it's a lovely story in it's own right, but it also knits the book together, and makes you realize the significance that story telling has for the narrator of the tales. i was very sad when...more
Steve
Chandra's collection reveals a writer of great potential but this did not come to fruition here. For this reader the only real stories which held attention were 'Shakti', which charted the war of social influence between two Bombay divas, and 'Kama', which introduced the most memorable character in the collection, 'Sartaj Singh' the Sikh detective inspector. Some wonderfully written passages but no real impact overall.
Swapna
This was a gift to me from a friend I found this book quite readable but not outstanding though...hummm stories being written very well but somehow to me it looked as if lack depth. but do have strong narration while no amount of good language could warm me up to the characters in the story.....so recommend this book to be read once simply for the strong narration and to gain a glimpse of Bombay. ...

Lori M.
I really enjoyed two of the stories in this book. Two others failed to grab me, but I can't fully blame the author, as I was pretty busy/distracted while reading them. Definitely worth a read. Absolutely loved Sacred Games, so I decided to give this a go (I'm usually not a big fan of short stories; my two favorites were the longer stories in this book). Can't wait to read more of his work.
Tracy Staton
One of these stories introduces the detective character at the heart of Sacred Games, Chandra's big novel. It's not the best story in the book, though. Chandra runs through a variety of genres -- including the ghost story, which is one of the most touching of the collection. The best piece, IMHO, is about social-climbing in Mumbai. It's the one that stuck with me after I'd finished the book.
Jessica
All 5 short stories in "Love & Longing in Bombay" take place in contemporary India and have the same narrator. Each story focuses on a different aspect of the society of Bombay: religion, power, sex, money and peace. The writing is engrossing and give you a real sense of the city. Vikram Chandra's superb storytelling makes this one of my favorite short story collections.
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Indian Readers: Love and Longing in Bombay - March Group Read 36 94 Jul 20, 2012 02:52AM  
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Vikram Chandra was born in New Delhi.

He completed most of his secondary education at Mayo College, a boarding school in Ajmer, Rajasthan. After a short stay at St. Xavier's College in Mumbai, Vikram 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 w...more
More about Vikram Chandra...
Sacred Games Red Earth and Pouring Rain Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty Mirrored Mind: My Life in Letters and Code Bombay Paradise (Sacred Games, 2)

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“So now that began to develop into a full-fledged shouting match of its own, and all in all it was soon a full-scale old-style Bombay tamasha, with people watching from every balcony and window in every building, up and down the road, laughing and giving advice and yelling at each other.” 3 likes
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