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Love and Longing in Bombay
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Love and Longing in Bombay

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  1,618 ratings  ·  93 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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Community Reviews

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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
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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
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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
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
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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
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Justin
Five intricately linked stories named after five tenets of Buddhism
hemant mathur
it’s a difficult read. Took effort and determination to finish. It’s not one novel but five disjointed stories mostly set in mid 20th century. And Mumbai connection is incidental. Even if one replaces Mumbai to Baneras nothing will change. In this novel, the protagonist meets one retired Mr. subramaniam at a bar who is narrating the stories, which are in turn told to him by a third person.

Probably it’s more like a black & white ear art movie. I felt both the writing style and plot are delib
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Rachel
Vignettes introduce you to a garden of characters; reading this almost feels like watching short films, observing rather than inhabiting carefully staged and haunted dioramas.

From "Shanti," a man remembers the death of his twin: "The newspapers [...] had reported with relief that on this day there were only six dead. One of the six was his. one body identical down to the strangely short fifth toe on the left foot. He had never known the bitterness of small statistics, but now he carried it ever
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Maxim
Lovely prose, for sure. Very detailed - the kind a movie director would love - because there is so little left to do really - the imagery the prose evokes hands it all on a platter for the filming. That said, the blurbs promised some kind of connection in between the stories, and maybe I am too dumb, or I didn't concentrate enough, but I couldn't see it. Maybe you must read the book all at one go to understand. Maybe I shouldn't have put the book down so often. And the last story tried my patien ...more
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
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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
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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
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.
katie
I enjoyed 2 of the 5 stories and the interstitials linking them, but found the other 3 unremarkable. Not a bad read and a definite talent for hooking you on a character very quickly but nothing amazing. I would be interested to read something by the author that doesn't rely on the storytelling gimmick which is never my fav.
Lua
I had a very hard time getting through this book because most of the stories didn't draw me in at all. That being said, there was one story that captivated me and I had to reread once I'd gotten through the book, as a reward of sorts. Maybe I'll try reading something else written by him only because of that one I loved.
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 ?
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Seemita Pooja
This eclectic mix of stories on the vast canvas of one of the most intriguing cities of the world is quite a read. I enjoyed the man and the ghost and the quirk and the serene. Vikram Chandra doesn't disappoint after Red Earth and Pouring Rain.

A nice breezy winter read for sure :)
Ioanna
for a contemporary book of short stories which are so often disappointing, I thought this was one of the most compelling--close to jumpha lahiri and bharati Mukherjee in the world of indian short stories, I liked it very much,.......and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was
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
Prashanth Kanichar
its good...nice prose...a man tells these stories in a bar in bombay..first one is a ghost story, a love story like that its good...
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
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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
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Indian Readers: Love and Longing in Bombay - March Group Read 36 95 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
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More about Vikram Chandra...
Sacred Games Red Earth and Pouring Rain Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty The Srinagar conspiracy Mirrored Mind: My Life in Letters and Code

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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
“The incredible length of Bombay sped by, those endless sprawls of buildings, huts and shacks, children squatting and shitting by the tracks, refuse, the crowded grey roads twisting and winding between, all of it blurred but fearsome in its strength, in its very life that grew it unstoppably.” 0 likes
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