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Sacred Games

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  3,845 ratings  ·  557 reviews
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 Singh—and 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 th
Hardcover, First U.S. Edition, 916 pages
Published January 9th 2007 by HarperCollins (first published 2006)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: 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 Singh--and 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
Maura Finkelstein
It took me a year to read this book. One year and exactly three days. At nine hundred pages, I spent 12 months considering how to approach the text, how to shrink it and put it in my pocket, my purse, comfortably under my arm. After 12 months I sat down, opened it, and proceeded to consume it in three days.
Sacred Games follows a Bombay police inspector and mafia Don: two men whose stories critically cross but only briefly meet. As the story unfolds, the list of characters grows to extreme propor
Shelley Ettinger
Well, what a little hypocrite I am ... because politically, this book has so much wrong with it on so many levels. So don't rush out and read it and then denounce me, and you know who I'm talking to. But. Still. What a story. What writing. What a great read. In its scope and thrust and breadth -- it is at once a detective story, a character study or rather series of character studies, a sweeping meditation on the post-colonial history of India and in particular the national question (I found one ...more
Prashant R
Vikram Chandra's "Sacred Games" is the "best" Bombay book, whichever way you look at it. It is set in Bombay and it is about the great metropolis.

Bombay is probably the main character in this "tome" (900 pages and 7 years in the making), which is at first difficult to penetrate, but completely addictive and rewarding once, you go past the 200 page mark.

What makes the book difficult to penetrate is the profusion of characters and the confusing at first-plot structure. (and to readers not from Bo
T. Scott
Sep 13, 2007 T. Scott rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
This is, as many have no doubt noted, a long book. I read at night before I go to bed, so this was a long read for me, but I looked forward to being pulled into it each night. I won't describe the plot because you can find it elsewhere, except to say that its setting is Bombay (Mumbai) and that it's a book of dual identities -- cop and mobster -- and depicts each with varying degrees of sympathy, empathy and sadness. I felt both were at the core melancholy figures looking for something. One thin ...more
Sep 05, 2007 Marc rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Dawood Ibrahim
So close . . . I almost loved this book, but somehow the whole was less than the sum of the (ample) parts. In the end, as much as I enjoyed each of the narratives, I didn't think that Chandra had the chops to integrate them, which is unfortunate since that seemed to be the whole point of the thing. Chandra gets massive points for ambition, but comes up short in the execution. The biggest problem is Chandra's inability (or, more charitably, disinclination) to vary his narrative voice despite his ...more
Mar 28, 2007 Allison rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone, but especially people interested in India
Shelves: fiction
This is a sprawling novel about gangsters and cops in Mumbai, India. The author includes a Hindi glossary to assist with the Hindi words sprinkled liberally throughout the text. At first I was frustrated because I wanted to look all of them up, and this book is big (900 pages) and heavy, which made it very cumbersome. But as I went along, I recognized many of the words (especially the bad ones!), so I didn't have to refer to the glossary as often. The main characters are Sartaj Singh, a policema ...more
How can I possibly describe a 947-page book in the space of a brief review? I guess I could start by saying that my interest was maintained all the way through, which is saying a lot. This book didn't change my life or anything, but it was a great read and a great story and I had absolutely no problem with the length. Although a few of the subplots and interludes were arguably less necessary, they were no less engaging.

"Sacred Games" explores the lives of two Mumbai men, a police officer named S
Jan 24, 2008 Chloe rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chloe by:
Shelves: fiction, india
I am a sucker for fiction set in or around Mumbai, so picking this up was a no-brainer. Chandra's first book, Red Earth & Falling Rain, was only so-so but this new book has managed to grip me within the first 50 pages. I'll let you know how I'm feeling after I get to Page 900 or so...

900 pages later, I am of the opinion that Vikram Chandra is in dire need of a skilled editor. This could have been whittled down about 500 pages and moved a lot more smoothly, yet the characters are still intere
As someone with a 300-page attention span, I wasn't sure I'd finish Vikram's 900-page magnum opus. But the story is so engrossing I could hardly put the book down, and I'm not someone who generally reads crime thrillers. The language is stunning, the characters are rich and deep, and book gives Westerners like me a view into Indian life that we would never be likely to see otherwise. I found myself lingering over the images and ideas in this book long after the 900th page.
Atul Sabnis
I'll ignore the insets when I write about this book. Being from Mumbai and a someone who love the city more than anything, this book was a wonderful read. Chandra tells nice stories! More about this book in this post, in my blog.
Sacred Games.. the book should ideally be named as '6 Degrees of separation' or 'Chaos theory' or 'Butterfly effect' .. etc because everyone & every situation & every thing is related to each other.. starting a chain of events, growing bigger & bigger till the end.. when we realise that this ripple which was bound to lead to a tsunami actually led to a bubble..

well its an interesting read.. with many plots.. the religious animosity, gang war of mumbai dons, underbelly of mumbai slum
"Sacred Games is a brilliant crime epic, which impressively balances a literary detective and gangster story with a cinematically violent tale of contemporary Bombay. One of Chandra's most remarkable achievements amidst this novel of marvels is his ability to turn mundane moments into extraordinary ones; a father's lovingly ritualized inquiries into his sons' hygiene are just as compelling as far higher octane scenes of crime and gang wars. The overall effect for the reader is to have the breadt ...more
Jul 28, 2007 Radhika rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Indophiles
Really, really, really a good read. Pulled me in and kept me there despite its LOOONG length. It is almost a 1000 pages. But so well written. I love complex interwoven stories, stories from which other stories emerge. Despite not meeting characters for whole chapters, you recollect them easily. The portraits are quite nice but Bombay and its messy feelings run through the whole novel. It is replete with Bambaiya which one may understand using the glossary provided at the back of the book. Lotsa ...more
This big, juicy novel exuberantly thrusts the reader into modern India like no other I've read. Although the story moves as fast as any successful thriller, and the plot careens energetically in many directions, it's all headed to one deeper place: to examine if the way we act in the world reflects who we are inside, or is an assumed, learned response to the circumstances we experience. With that difficult task in hand, Chandra, a master raconteur, tells the intertwining stories of two men, who ...more
Amanda Schaefer
I got this book: At a used bookstore in Waupaca, WI, while on my used bookstore tour in March 2010.

This was an incredibly good book. Sartaj, the lead police inspector and one of the main characters, was my favorite. However, I also ended up really liking Ganesh, the seedy mob boss. I like them both on their own, but what I find really fascinating is how their lives parallel each other. They both have gurus (Sartaj - professional, Ganesh - spiritual) who let them down, the women they want to push
"Sacred Games" revolves around the suicide of Ganesh Gaitonde, the most wanted gangster in India - a suicide that takes place in a newly-built fortified bunker in the center of Mumbai - and the investigation of how Gaitonde came to his end by Sartaj Singh, a once high-flying inspector on the police force who is beginning to realize he is on the back end of his career without much to show for it.

This, however, is no simple whodunnit. Rather, we watch Singh pursue leads on the Gaitonde case at th
So this was a thrilling page-turner. With lots of Indian gaalis thrown in. And of course, tons and tons of violence. And two amazing characters - Sartaj and Gaitonde. The tone of the book, the dialogues were right on the money, really authentic and all that. I really liked his language. But "literary masterpiece" - I think not.

Also, it was too bloody long. I like to relish a good book, admire a nice turn of phrase - and this book was full of those - but there were parts where I was just skimmin
I was looking for an Indian detective novel, and I surely found it. You have to commit yourself to this book, because it's an Indian novel in the Mahabbarata style...900 pages long. But if you do commit, there are several rewards. One, you'll learn all the Hindi/Urdu curse words you'll ever need to know, and find yourself wanting to randomly sprinkle them into conversation. Two, you'll find yourself addressing your cats as "Kevin-ji" and "Gilly saab," which is kind of cool, though puzzling to th ...more
At exactly 101th page, a thought passed through my mind - "What could be alternative uses of this book?"

First, it can really pass off as a nice and "hard" pillow, when you need one and not a real one handy.

Second, you can hurl it at someone, a vermin perhaps, if you want to really "hurt" that someone. (yes, I am talking about the hardcover edition, which I possess).

Third, if your arms don't reach to the top shelf, you can use it as a small stool, that can give you the required "elevation".

At 900 pages, this book was really tedious. The basic story line was good, but the author added too many side stories. I feel that he had an agenda within this book, which is sometimes OK, but it almost ruined the story. He appears to be railing against the inequities of Indian society, but since this was basically a mystery, it was out of place. He told several back stories, one of which should never have been included, and another of which was way too long and detailed and certainly interrupte ...more
Yes, I finally got through the 900 pages! There were elements that I enjoyed about the book. The author developed the two main characters in a way that they were pretty believable. I just didn't love it. As well written as the book was, it didn't "sing" to me. I guess that I didn't care too much what happened to anybody, I cared more about finishing. Overall it was a well written interesting read but not one of my favorites.
Parveen Sikder
Aug 13, 2007 Parveen Sikder rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people w/ upper body strength who can hold up the book for long periods of time
too much digression.
Vani !
‘Sacred Games’ weaves together the Mumbai underworld, its police and the glitterati, into a colourful mosaic that’s resplendent in multiple themes, voices and characters. At 900 pages, this tome of a book does look a bit daunting at first, but promises a lot of action if the reader is patient enough to sit through all of it.
Sartaj Singh is a middle-aged Sikh police inspector in Mumbai, corrupt yet likable, divorced yet not throwing himself in the way of every woman, sycophantic yet keenly prote
La novela Juegos Sagrados es la última novela del escrito indio Vikram Chandra y me ha enganchado desde la primera página. Chandra es un autor indio en lengua inglesa que cuenta en su haber con dos novelas largas y un libro de historias cortas, es profesor de escritura creativa en la universidad de Berkeley y pasa su vida entre los EE.UU., donde desarrolla su carrera académica, y Bombay, de donde es originario y en donde su familia está muy ligada a la industria cinematográfica. Además, es co-es ...more
This all-enveloping tale of Bombay/Mumbai and the life of a quiet, divorced police officer, Sartaj Singh, kept my attention so deftly even when my reading was interrupted for weeks at a time by family issues, the loss of the book itself (!), the unveiling of its hiding place, the holidays, death of a family member, and the coming of a new baby. I was educated in many ways about contemporary life in India, about BHAI(wiseguy) gangs, about astronomy, astrology, castes, foods, teas, gods, bombs, an ...more
Joyce Lagow
Why did Ganesh Gaitonde, Mafia-style Indian crime lord, return to Mumbai to commit suicide?[return][return]This question is central to the plot of this very good police procedural. Two protagonists are driven to find the answer: Sartaj Singh, an divorced inspector with the Mumbai police department, and Gaitonde himself, who narrates his life story--after his suicide.[return][return]While true to its genre, Sacred Games is much more than a police procedural. The story could not have taken place o ...more
Mar 20, 2008 Valerie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lovers of Big books, Indiaphiles, Dickens fans
Recommended to Valerie by: John
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 18, 2013 El marked it as to-read
Shelves: pause-button
I can't do it anymore. 200-some pages in and I'm so uninterested that I am considering taking an Algebra course for some excitement. And anyone who knows me knows that I would never, ever, everevereverever give up a book for maaaath.

I'm not a quitter. I've finished reading books that I hated, yet this one has me so bored that I can't imagine finishing at this time. I am giving up on this book. For now. Maybe. Maybe I'll return to it. But not anytime soon.

I throw in the towel. You, Sacred Games,
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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 about Vikram Chandra...
Red Earth and Pouring Rain Love and Longing in Bombay 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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