Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Kalki” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  1,145 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
Once again, Vidal takes on the unmitigated folly born of the unholy partnership of religion, the media, and a public that longs for a savior. The eponymous hero of Kalki, born and bred in America's Midwest, has established himself in Nepal and put out the word that he is the last incarnation of the god Vishnu. An imminent apocalypse -- ignited by Kalki's own actions -- wil ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published January 1st 1998 by Penguin Classics (first published 1976)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Kalki, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Kalki

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
MJ Nicholls
Apr 19, 2012 MJ Nicholls rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, merkins
I write this review on a cordless laptop at my girlfriend’s cabin the Highlands, the rain lashing against my cheek (I’m half indoors half out), the wind howling against my thigh (my other thigh is howl-proof). I lie. I write this in a cosy bed on a cordless laptop, the only danger being a rampaging bull butting the double-glazed windows with his horns of evil, then gouging my pretty face with said horns. All this is padding. I apologise. Sometimes I have so little so say about all these wonderfu ...more
Jan 07, 2013 Lammoth rated it it was amazing

Според индуизма, преди много време е имало върховен бог, наречен Праджапати. Той има три страни. Брама - създателят, Вишну - закрилникът и Шива, унищожителят. Когато Вишну е легнал върху водите, от които са дошли всички хора, от пъпа му израснал лотос. От този лотос се родил Брама. А Брама създал света.
До днес Вишну е идвал на земята девет пъти. Осмото превъплъщение или аватар на Вишну е бил Кришна. Последното превъплъщение на върховния бог Вишну е било пр
Mar 08, 2015 Shakeia rated it did not like it
I don't even wanna talk about it.
Aug 30, 2013 Kevin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
my first taste of Vidal and it's certainly not what i expected. the wit and sophisticated ideas, i did expect. what came as a surprise was the dark humor and satire- but also the science fiction. yes, science fiction. i said it.

i expected it to be a satirical indictment of cultish religiosity and several other things including heterosexuality, paternalism, the entertainment industry, pop culture, et al. and so it was. but then, like some "magic eye" image or masterful optical illusion, it became
Srivinay Salian
Sep 07, 2009 Srivinay Salian rated it it was amazing
Every book subtly portrays the very nature of the author who has penned it. Gore Vidal does this with each of his work.

Kalki – The Novel is Vidal’s way of sharing his view on topics such as global politics, overpopulation, birth control, and feminism and above all, Hindu Wisdom.

Vidal weaves a story in a very unconventional pattern. His narration is satirical on purpose, to make you feel at ease while you are reading a book that speaks about the Dooms Day.

Vidal has a knack to say everything with
Stephen Brody
Jan 02, 2016 Stephen Brody rated it really liked it
An American madman (or is he?) has the delusion that he’s the reincarnation of Vishnu whose final appearance according to Hindu mythology signals the end of the world. He selects a compatriot aviatrix, Teddy, a sturdily independent feminist (pretty clearly referring to Vidal Senior’s colleague and friend, Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly alone across the Atlantic). Teddy is not quite as much on the ball as she thought, she’s mysteriously abducted and anaesthetized, to wake up realising tha ...more
Apr 06, 2011 Marley rated it really liked it
My early New Year's Resolution is to read all of Gore Vidal's books in 2011. I've started early with Kalki, which I'd put in the minor novels category. Although I thought it was a little weak in places, Vidal is incapable of writing anything bad, I loved it anyway.

Only Gore Vidal can make the end of the world a anticipated event, and with such engaging characters, to boot. Teddy Ottinger is ahead of her time and our time, even if she's a rather idealized version of Vidal, who showed some real c
Muthuprakash Ravindran
When I was a kid, one of my night time 'happy thoughts' to get to sleep is to some how 'pause' the world of all action and then go around. Since I grew up in Madurai, a small town, my fantasy never went beyond roaming the streets of the same when every other human is just frozen. I used to think of having all the food, money and books. That used to be a short happy thought that will get me to sleep with a smile on face.

Now, what if you took that and write a book around it? that essentially will
Христо Блажев
Sep 19, 2011 Христо Блажев rated it it was amazing
"Калки" на Гор Видал рисува апокалиптична религиозна лудост:

Това е третата книга на Видал, която чета това лято след "Вечна война за вечен мир" и "Вашингтон, окръг Колумбия" и считам, че е най-добрата между споменатите.

Книгата е написана през 1978 г. и описва апокалиптичен сюжет, пред който купищата холивудски суперпродукции бледнеят. Бивш военен от Виетнам се самообявява за Калки - десетото, последно превъплъщение на бог Вишну, дошъл да прогласи края на
Erik Graff
Aug 09, 2014 Erik Graff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Vidal fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
The only reason I can imagine for Vidal receiving a Nebula nomination for this mediocre near-future novel is because of his standing in the literary world.
Raegan Butcher
Feb 06, 2009 Raegan Butcher rated it really liked it
Quite unlike anything else written by the author. Fans of dystopian fiction should enjoy it. I know I did.
Apr 09, 2011 Tim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I used to see Gore Vidal occasionally on "Laugh-In," and I knew he was a controversial author and public figure, with what seemed to be anti-feminist views. I have had his novel "Burr" for some time but can't seem to find the d*** thing. Came across "Kalki" at a book sale a couple years ago and thought, well, it IS by Mr. Vidal after all...So OK, this is the essence of quirky, with the "main " character being Kalki, which is an avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu, the Hindu version of God. Well, ther ...more
Ammar Ibnezia
May 07, 2014 Ammar Ibnezia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
جب انسان مشکلات سے نجات پانے کے تمام حقیقت پسند راستے بندپاتا ہے تو وہ خواب دیکھتا ہے۔ پل بھر میں چمتکار ہونے کے خواب، ہر مشکل اور پریشانی سے نجات پانے کے خواب، اور پھر زندگی کی جھنجھٹ سے آزاد ہونے کے خواب۔
کالکی ہونے کے دعوے دار نے زندگی سے تنگ آئے انسانوں کو یہی خواب دکھایا۔ اس دنیا کے خاتمے کے نتیجے میں ہر اُلجھن سے آزاد ہوکر اگلی دنیا میں بہتر زندگی کا خواب۔ نتیجتاً بے بس انسانوں کی ایک بڑی تعداد اُس کی ہم نوا بن گئی۔ اُس نے دنیا کو بتایا کہ وہی براہما ہے، وہی وشنو ہے اور وہی شیوا ہے۔ وہی پچھ
Sahil Raina
Jun 19, 2009 Sahil Raina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sahil by: Kavita
First, apologies as I have a lot to say about this book.

1) The reader wonders throughout the book whether the Kalki figure (the entity/incarnation of Vishnu supposed to end the world) isn't just a fraud employing a mythical character to make a quick buck. In my mind, this does not get resolved but others have suggested that they disagree (so I am not ruining the book by saying what i just did).

2) I am sort of amused/annoyed by the racial makeup of the core group that shall be saved in the coming
Mara Maassa
Jan 17, 2016 Mara Maassa rated it liked it
- 'I have always wanted to know everything. To be everything. Master of not only the one but the other to the two cultures. At home with Rosnard. At home with Heisenberg...'
- Here is a quotation from Horace: 'Born under the malignant influence of change.'
- 'I had deliberately removed myself from the bioreproductive track or trap that nature had created for me and which I had loyally served by giving birth to two children.'
- 'A [..] newspaper dedicated to corrupting the morals of the lower IQs.'
Nov 01, 2012 Graham rated it liked it
Entertaining bit of speculative fiction. Bisexual pilot turned author profiles/abets ex-GI drug-runner who claims to be the incarnation of Kalki (Hindu avatar whose appearance precedes the end of an age - e.g. the apocalypse). Good satirical take on the overlapping between organized religion, organized crime, and government. Lot of interjection of Vidal's own politics, which can be laudable but can also be a little overbearing.

The writing style, in which the protagonist is constantly comparing h
Sabrina Edgington
Mar 12, 2012 Sabrina Edgington rated it really liked it
I've always been intrigued by Gore Vidal. He is supposedly a member of the Gore family (as in Al Gore) but is kindof the black sheep. I hear that Al Gore can't stand him. Gore Vidal, being the black sheep, supposedly flipped his name around. I say "supposedly" because I only read this once and haven't done any research. Gore Vidal loves to play with politics and in his books, he usually brings out the side of politicians that pushes people's buttons... for example, in his book, "Lincoln," I beli ...more
Mario Dumouchel
Oct 11, 2015 Mario Dumouchel rated it it was ok
As I was reading Kalki I was initially hooked by Teddy, the main character and her inner monologue. It felt like listening to Gore Vidal's thoughts because they were irratic and intellectual. My main gripe was the obvious soapbox speeches dropped awkwardly into situations but I was enjoying the mystery of the living-god Kalki and was wondering how it was going to turn out... then the last fifty pages happened.

The characters began taking stupid pills and became unlikable (boring). Vidal's story
Jul 06, 2010 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In bold choice for a main character, given the year of publication. Our narrator is Theodora "Teddy" Ottinger, a female test pilot with a master's degree in engineering from USC. The author goes against convention with many aspects of this character, including paying alimony to her husband when she leaves him and living with her girlfriend after the divorce.

Mr. Vidal does not leave the reader with most sunny view of humanity. Every character is leading a double life and using the people around t
Apr 09, 2012 Ferris rated it really liked it
Not just your plain everyday end of the world tale! This novel, written in the 1970s, is more of a sociopolitical statement than a novel. Using the Hindu concepts of Vishnu come again as avatar Kalki, to end the current era of human life on earth, the protagonist manages to manipulate the masses in order to achieve his own ends. Not only does he manipulate the common person on the street, but he is able to successfully manipulate Congress, the Chinese Mafia, and the CIA to his own ends. Charisma ...more
Sep 24, 2008 Unbridled rated it it was ok
Somewhat disappointed by the mediocrity of it all. From the start, the narrator, the heroine, an engineer and aviatrix (herself enthralled with Amelia Earhart), sounds like an idealized (feminine) version of Gore himself. The voice, the word choice, the cool, unapologetic disdain for most things not Gore, etc. Which is fine, brilliantly entertaining while I'm reading his memoirs, but not especially effective if I'm to believe in Teddy's 'reality.' Teddy, to be clear, is Theodora Ottinger, the no ...more
Aug 18, 2010 Graham rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Because of this book, I learned that Kalki is an incarnation of Vishnu.

Which led me to discover that Vishnu is part of the Hindu holy trinity.

Brahma - (Creator) - Visnu - (Preserver) - Shiva - (Destroyer)- Vishnu has had 9 incarnations to date, Kalki will be the 10th.

So this one book led me on a journey of self discovery, which I am still travelling along.

If that doesn't happen to you, hard luck, but that doesn't stop this book from being a well crafted and thoroughly entertaining, read.

Jul 17, 2012 Shanie rated it it was ok
Gore Vidal's style is clear, interesting, and very readable; it is a fast read; and the plot may have been very ground-breaking for the time that it was written (1970's). However, to me it was just one more sci-fi apocalypse story. The main character, although an atheist and a cynic like me, somehow never fully won me over. The buildup to the main event took most of the book... by the time I was 2/3 through, I was like, "is the world going to end/not end, I don't even care anymore." The last bit ...more
Leif Barron
May 30, 2008 Leif Barron rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: the Universe
I brought "Kalki" along with me to Thailand and Cambodia because it was small and fit into my bag, but I wish I hadn't because once I began reading I wasn't able to put it down until hours later when it was nearly time for the sun to rise.
"Kalki" is yet another foray into South Asian religion for Vidal and again, much like "Creation" (although this book in no way resembles "Creation") he is able to deftly deal with difficult subjects (Vedic apocalyptic writings to be precise) while also raisin
I started this book early in the '80s and then finished it ten years later after I was back from Nepal and more familiar with Kalki and all...I'm not sure what to make of the novel; it felt at the time as if Vidal were channeling Ludlum or Nelson DeMille and I thought he had better things to do with his time than that. Little has stuck with me over the years beyond how Vidal creates an interesting Hindu premise here, not your typical Book of Revelations end-of-the-world type of doomsday scenario ...more
Cearúil Swords
Jan 09, 2016 Cearúil Swords rated it really liked it
An pleasing invention of his mind without the historical elements of say Julian, Creation or Burr etc. The last third of the book is the part that has left the greatest impression and the last twenty pages or so stick out the most.

I think it is a more accessible read than the historical fiction he wrote because not everyone (particularly those outside the U.S) cares very deeply about the personal lives of various US political figures of yesteryear.
Jan 10, 2015 Scott rated it it was amazing
Gore Vidal, you sly fox. Very rarely am I as shocked by plot twists as I was with this book. Multiple occasions I literally said out-loud "are you kidding me?!" as if I was flabbergasted by what someone had just told me. My first Vidal, and I thought it was great. Highly recommend reading something from this very articulate man. And, if you like a book where you think, ok this is obvious, and then BOOOM! NOPE! that was not where I thought that was going! than try this one out.
Jul 10, 2014 Zhivomira rated it really liked it
Отново си избрах "перфектната" книга за морето. 3 звезди, нетипично за Гор Видал амплоа на научнофантастичен писател, но пък типичен главен герой/авторов аватар и ерудирано въведение в древна религия(в случая - индуизъм).
Мисълта ми тече в посока "Народният храм", Джим Джоунс и Куул-Ейд, но засега не съм проверила дали книгата е писана преди или след събитията. Г.В. е бил и журналист, тъй че човек никога не знае.
Aug 13, 2011 Jeff rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, dystopia
This is one of those odd times where I'm not sure whether to give 2 stars or 4. So I'll give 3. I blasted right through, the pace was just right (being on an airplane may have helped, but some books don't grab me even when trapped in the lower stratosphere). I liked the shady nature of many of the characters and the ending, yet somehow I was also left a bit cold at the end.

This book is a pure creature of the 1970s as far as its concerns and worldview.

I may give Vidal another read.
Dec 15, 2007 Jennifer rated it did not like it
Shelves: given-up-on
This was a book club selection. I read the first 100 pages and then skipped to the final 50 pages after Suzanne filled me in on the rest. While the book itself was easy to read, I found myself unable to really relate to the protagonist. The "end of the world" portion of the book was more interesting to me than the lead up part. Maybe because the characters were being described on a more personal level?
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • The Byworlder
  • The Road to Corlay
  • The Devil Is Dead
  • Temporary Agency (Unquenchable Fire, #2)
  • Celestis
  • What Entropy Means to Me
  • And Chaos Died
  • Juniper Time
  • Deserted Cities of the Heart
  • To Crush the Moon (The Queendom of Sol #4)
  • Blind Voices
  • Light Music (Nanotech, #4)
  • Picoverse
  • Half Past Human
  • Redshift Rendezvous
  • The Year of the Quiet Sun
  • Assemblers of Infinity
  • The Void Captain's Tale
Eugene Luther Gore Vidal was an American writer known for his essays, novels, screenplays, and Broadway plays. He was also known for his patrician manner, Transatlantic accent, and witty aphorisms. Vidal came from a distinguished political lineage; his grandfather was the senator Thomas Gore, and he later became a relation (through marriage) to Jacqueline Kennedy.

Vidal ran for political office twi
More about Gore Vidal...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »