Red Earth and Pouring Rain
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Red Earth and Pouring Rain

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  1,559 ratings  ·  141 reviews
Vikram Chandra's Red Earth and Pouring Rain is an unforgettable reading experience, a contemporary Thousand and One Nights - with an eighteenth-century warrior-poet (now reincarnated as a typewriting monkey) and an Indian student home from college in America switching off as our Scheherazades. Ranging from bloody battles in colonial India to college anomie in California, f...more
Paperback, 686 pages
Published February 5th 2006 by Penguin Books,India (first published 1995)
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Don Dada
Nov 22, 2007 Don Dada rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
A young man returns to India after going to college in Los Angeles. While tangled in a web of identity issues, the young man shoots a monkey that had stolen his levis ( symbolism anyone?). This is a big no-no in their neck of the woods and the young man's family rushes to save the monkey.

While nursing the monkey back to health, it becomes clear that the shooting had flipped a switch in the monkey that allows him to remember his past life as a poet. The monkey proceeds to climb up to the typewrit...more
Jennifer Rhodes Wynne
This book holds a special place in my heart. My husband brought this to book on our first date...when ever I see it or re-read it I think of that night.
The multiple stories in this truly epic novel make it a hard one to follow yet even h arder to put down. For a westerner quite unfamiliar with Indian culture, I was constnatly researching India's history, language, cuisine, gods, castes, and religion as I moved through this story. However - it was brilliant. The time spent researching to understand was quite worth it, and the information I gained in the process I should have already had. The story is brilliant, told for the most part by an ancie...more
The book was disappointing in the sense that it seemed detached from its own story line. I wish it was not the case.

Nevertheless I am pretty much hopeful about Sacred Games by this author which I plan to read in the future.
Abhay comes home to India after studying in America, and he shoots a monkey that's been bothering the family for years. Wounded, they take the monkey in and nurse it, hopefully back to health. The monkey starts having flashbacks and realizes that it's a reincarnation of his former human self. the God of Death, Yama appears to the monkey, aka Sanjay in his former life, and wants to take him but Hanuman, the God of monkeys appears when he's appealed to by Sanjay. They strike a bargain and if Sanja...more
Jeffrey Mervosh
This book is an endeavor. Written largely as a story-within-a-story, Red Earth and Pouring Rain relates the tales of two story-tellers - one, an Indian poet reincarnated in the form of a red monkey (whose human consciousness emerges after an accident), and the other, a newly-returned student sent to the United States for university. The two stories leapfrog back and forth, with each being told a chapter at a time. They tell the coming of age of two vastly different characters in vastly different...more
Chandra is an amazing storyteller. I will say that I picked this book up in college and quickly set it down as I did not get many (most) of the Indian references. After visiting India (even for a short period of time), it was no longer an issue. I think understanding the references is key to enjoying this book. After that, sit back and let the stories unroll. Don't try to "get through it" because that can be rough. Let the story be told as he tells it-- some moments are slow or pieces are interr...more
I kind of feel like Vikram Chandra said to himself 'what do I want to read? what do I want to see happen in a story?' then gathered every idea he had ever had and smooshed it into a book. He covers every single genre in one way or another and at times it is so compacted that I couldnt remember who people were and why they were there so had to browse back through the first third of the book. At times it was very wordy, almost unnecessarily so, and I didnt think it was actually needed. Abhay's sto...more
These things are known about this novel: epic scope, stories-within-stories, modern US subjects, and the history of India. More deeply, it explores the British invasion/influence/damage and how so many stereotypes perpetuated by Europeans persist today. Even more deeply, the fictional characters brought to life by Chandra are fascinating and human in every way. The art of story telling is treated with the greatest respect. Some of the Hindu gods appear as characters themselves--some delightful,...more
Red Earth and Pouring Rain is a whirlwind of a book, and a heavy whirlwind at that. The book itself is weighty, and its contents are jammed full of an overwhelming amount of characters.

I had trouble remembering who did what, what the effect was, and how things influenced each other later. So to me, it seemed in parts like one random thing happening after another.

I really enjoyed the first third or so of the book, and then I think things all started to jumble together. I think I finally lost tra...more
Bob Shaw`
I read this book slowly, savoring each exquisite page, turning back frequently to put people in their proper places. Who is telling this story, a story within a story within another story. I investigated Indian history to further understand the narrative. The book was work, invigorating work. Finally I finished. I picked up my next book, but each morning I set aside some time and started reading Red Earth and Pouring Rain again, even more slowly this time, relishing and luxuriating in the many l...more
I have finished this book and I must say I did enjoy it. Since I would not always read it on consecutive days I found some of his chapters a little confusing. He also talks about certain customs typical of India, or ceremonies, food, etc., without any kind of an explanation probably considering that everyone knows what he is talking about. If a computer is available one can look for the information on the internet but what happens when this is not available? I find that many Indian writers assum...more
Alex Tilley
Easily my favourite book by an Indian author. Beautifully evocative magic realism epic of Indian mythology grounded brilliantly by a modern subplot. If I still had a copy I would read it again right now.
No. Not my thing.
Also reviewed @ http://love-affair-with-books.blogspo...

I have made it to page 70 and am not prepared to read any further.

What I have read is basically utter crap. Sacred Games- the author's second book was fantastic, completely the opposite to this relating to the llves of Police Officers and Gangsters. Very easy to grasp, this book, I couldn't tell you what it is supposed to be about because it literally turns into several stories within another and basically not very good stories at that.
It s...more
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Bs V.2.0.0
May 22, 2008 Bs V.2.0.0 rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: absolutely anyone
Shelves: the-very-best
This is a threaded and layered story. The narrator's tier involves a young Indian man coming home to his parents' house from college in America. After a series of events, multiple characters begin telling stories. You'll have to read to find out why, but I'll just say that one of the characters is a century-old warrior-poet in the body of a monkey. No, it's not a silly book; how this comes about relates to Hindu beliefs.

The book deals primarily with themes of family tension, political t...more
Becky Isett
Feb 08, 2008 Becky Isett rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who have time to read it all in one sitting
It seems strange or maybe a little general/stereotypical for me to say that I usually love Indian literature, as all Indian literature is not the same. However, there are certain characteristics that I use in that term such as subject matter, style, history, etc. This book has a lot of those elements but is so scattered that it's hard to really understand all that the author is trying to accomplish. It took me 4 different attempts to actually finish this book and when it finally happened I was d...more
Heather Knight
This book is epic in scope, a story within a story, within a story sort of construction. The basic premise is that Sanjay, re-incarnated as a typewriting monkey, needs to spend two hours every day entertaining an ever-growing crowd of listeners with the story of his life, lest he be taken by Yama, god of death. He is helped in this endeavor mostly by Abhay, home from college, Abhay's parents, and a young neighbor girl.

So, knowing that the main character is a monkey who can type, there's obvious...more
Jun 08, 2008 Nam rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers
I really enjoyed this book.
When i first picked up the book i was disappointed because i didn't feel as if i was in the mood for a long read (at this point in my summer).
However, once i began reading Chandra's work i became enthralled.
The first thing that is unusual is the inter-weaving of so many plot lines. The main story plot begins in the present day and revolves around an Indian boy and his adventures during his senior year in U of C Pomona.
However, it quickly unravels into multiple story li...more
John Maltman
I hate to deny this book 4 stars, yet I feel it's fair. Vikram has a gift of prose, can knit a good yarn, and manages some vivid imagery. If only, the narrative was a little more tightly weaved together. I don't mind bouncing from a college student in modern day L.A, to an Indian Warrior Mystic embroiled in war, and then over to modern India w/ a type writing monkey. Yeah, it bounces around a lot and that's fine. Somewhere though, especially with a complicated character like 'Sikander' you lose...more
This is a story about stories. Two major stories are told in parallel through the book by two narrators - Sanjay, a monkey who life is threatened by a few gods, and Abhay, a college student. Sanjay tells the story of two brothers, Sanjay (himself) and his brother Sikander. This story is magical and military, and describes their lives in India dealing with the English colonization. The second story is told by Abhay, and describes his adventures during his time in college in the U.S. I enjoyed Abh...more
This book is about stories. It contains stories within stories weaved with other stories. I enjoyed it a lot, though it took me a long time to actually get up the nerve to read it, and a long time to actually get through it.

I both of the major storylines touching and interesting, though I found Abhey (Indian student at Pomona college/road-tripping across the country) easier to relate to.

I feel like I missed a lot of references and a lot of the depth of this story. I saw 3 or 4 levels, I think th...more
Lake Oz Fic Chick
Abhay, a college student in the U.S. but home on break in India, shoots a scavenging monkey, only to find, as the creature is dying, that the animal is the reincarnation of a passionate warrior-poet named Sanjay. A deal is struck with the gods: the monkey may live if he entertains others with tales of all of his previous lives. Accordingly, a kaleidoscopic epic unfolds of the history and mythology of India. What is the meaning of life? Why are we sidetracked by ephemeral pleasures? Can we become...more
Galen Nolan
Great book, it has a real unique swagger to the writing. The story is all over the place from mythology to horror to comedy and romance. The whole package.

pg. 114 sums this book up pretty well;

"Hanuman stretched, twitched his ears, and grinned at me. 'O wise one,' he said. 'Then what in your opinion is a good story?'
'What it's always been, monkey,' Ganesha said. 'One dhansu conflict. Some chaka-chak song and dance. Grief. Love. Love for the lover, love for the mother. Love for the land. Comedy....more
This book is epic. I like that about it. It's huge and mythic and speaks to enormous sweeping themes that don't often show up in the books I read. I loved the typing monkey especially. I'm still thinking about some of the questions the story raised for me.
There are a few sections that I just couldn't stay with - these sort of ancestral swashbuckling war stories at the beginning felt as though they'd never end - but for the most part, wading through those less compelling sections were totally wo...more
Nov 06, 2009 Angie marked it as abandoned
I started reading this outside of Babu Ram's tea stall. I had bought it because I kept seeing it in the bookshop, and was in love with the cover, which features a red monkey and an Underwood typewriter. This massive first novel, at 669 pages, is what many have considered "epic", and is probably why I abandoned this at page 45. That and Didi Ram, the wife of the tea stall owner, came over and sat beside me while I was having my tea and kachori and this book really needs to be read not under the i...more
Kevin Guiltenane
It made me want to research the british conquest of India as well as Hindi culture and religion. I wasn't too interested in the conquest until I read this book. I only wish I knew more about the culture so I could get more context for everything. Despite my ignorance, I consider this book well-written as well possessing an excellent and unique story.
This book grew on me. Aside from a very nice portrayal of Indian culture and world view, the story telling is beautiful. The intricacies of the story line and development of narratives within other narratives is impressive and deep.

I give it four stars as sometimes it gets a bit slow moving and I would not categorize this book as a fast paced or an easy read.

The story of Abhay did not make sense for me until the very end and I believe the narrative would do fine without it and not suffer for it...more
I really tried to continue reading this book, I just couldn't. "A Fine Balance" is my all time favoriate book about India and was soooo enjoyable. This book is really strange.
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The Royal Bookwor...: Red Earth and Pouring Rain 4 6 Dec 31, 2012 04:13PM  
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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 Love and Longing in Bombay Geek Sublime: Writing Fiction, Coding Software Mirrored Mind: My Life in Letters and Code Bombay Paradise (Sacred Games, 2)

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“Ask him why there are hypocrites in the world.'
'Because it is hard to bear the happiness of others.'
'When are we happy?'
'When we desire nothing and realize that possession is only momentary, and so are forever playing.'
'What is regret?'
'To realize that one has spent one's life worrying about the future.'
'What is sorrow?'
'To long for the past.'
'What is the highest pleasure?'
'To hear a good story.”
“And so I began to read,' Sorkar said. 'And at first the complete works were like a jungle, the language was quicksand. Metaphors turned beneath my feet and became biting snakes, similes fled from my grasp like frightened deer, taking all meaning with them. All was alien, and amidst the hanging, entangling creepers of this foreign grammar, all sound became a cacophany. I feared for myself, for my health and sanity, but then I thought of my purpose, of where I was and who I was, of pain and I pressed on.” 9 likes
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