Arun Divakar's Reviews > The Calcutta Chromosome: A Novel of Fevers, Delirium & Discovery

The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh
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Sep 10, 11

Read from September 09 to 10, 2011

I am at a loss trying to write down what exactly I felt after reading this book. Was it the fact that none of the mysteries got resolved after the last page ? Was it the fact that contrary to my usual style of writing reviews I took a lot at other reviewers and find them creating interpretations for the web spun for this tale ? Such questions abound. I have no answer but a feeling (superficial though ) of being led down a long winding corridor and finally coming face on with a wall.

The premise is very alluring : the history of malarial research, ancient cults, a story line that weaves in and out of multiple time lines and a thick pall of atmospheric chills. It is part sci-fi, part detective fiction with a thin layer of horror smeared on. On a personal note, I like the parts where the writer's imagination takes leaps and bounds and comes up with fantastic outcomes. This is accomplished partly by the historic parts in the novel with the mystical components of eastern India being utilized. The subtle usage of the secret societies of India that would later become a rage thanks to a specific Mr.Brown is hard to miss too.

Where it all felt as a let down is when the story nears its end. The ending was not convincing enough for me. And it did not feel too much justified to all the journeys I undertook with the characters.It's like you visit a new place and ask the natives for a wonderful sight to see. They ask you to walk a little further for a glorious lake. You walk and walk and see no sign of it. Every other villager you meet tells you its just around the corner & finally you reach the place to see a pond with buffaloes wading in them & water lilies bobbing ! You wonder if you were hoodwinked & maybe if you strain your ears you might catch a sliver of laughter in the wind.
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