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Sacred Games

(Sacred Games)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  8,188 ratings  ·  1,005 reviews
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. It is is a story of friendship and betrayal, of terrible violence, of an astonishing modern city and its dark side.

Seven years in the making, Sacred Games is an epic of exceptional richness and power. V
Hardcover, First U.S. Edition, 916 pages
Published January 9th 2007 by HarperCollins (first published January 2006)
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Mohammed Motiwala
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Pete Lazonby the writing is vastly superior to Shantaram. Chandra is a professional writer, the shantaram guy led a very interesting and brave life no-one would de…morethe writing is vastly superior to Shantaram. Chandra is a professional writer, the shantaram guy led a very interesting and brave life no-one would deny, but that doesn't make you a writer. Most of them have fairly boring lives because it's hard, long and focussed work to achieve anything good. I think the tempo and length of Sacred Games is perfect. I wish it hadn't ended.(less)

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Average rating 3.93  · 
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(A-) 81% | Very Good
Notes: It was a frequent disappointment to find vernacular absent from the glossary, and otherwise indefinable by context.
Richard Derus
Oct 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
2018 UPDATE The first season was excellent, and unlike the usual course of events, there's a second season in the works! The book's 900-plus pages do not need much mining to present viewers with more sudsy crime-ridden goodness.

2017 UPDATE This is Netflix's first Indian series!

Real Rating: 3.5* of five, rounded up because the read is one I can not forget

The Publisher Says: Seven years in the making, Sacred Games is an epic of exceptional richness and power. Vikram Chandra's novel draws the reade
Maura Finkelstein
Aug 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Indrani Sen
Jun 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: india, favorites
What a book! It took me a while to complete owing to the length. But a solid story with many smaller stories intertwined. The main protagonists Sartaj Singh and Ganesh Gaitonde are very very well written. Not that well covered but very memorable are the two sisters Jojo and Mary. But the smaller characters (present in abundance) are the true scene-stealers. Aadil who appears at the fag end, Sartaj's co-workers - Kanetkar (and his family), Kamble, Parulkar, Majid Khan; Blackmailed Kamala and her ...more
Vani Vani
Mar 29, 2014 rated it liked it

‘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 nine hundred 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,
Prashant R
Feb 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
May 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime

I don't mind saying this novel took a force of will to get through, a battle of stickability that I was determined to win. Once mentioned in a list of Hanya Yanagihara's 'best books for long flights', Sacred Games had been taking up space on my shelves for several years. I knuckled down to my task during my 5-weeks of lockdown and prepared to be transported to Mumbai's mean streets.

Sacred Games is a quintessential sprawling epic, with hundreds of characters all carefully linked in a frag
Arun Divakar
Dec 02, 2018 rated it liked it
After reading the last chapter of Sacred Games, I went for a walk relatively late in the evening to wrap together my thoughts around this story and also to really declutter my head. For the good part of two months or so now I have been reading this book almost every free minute of the day to the extent that I sometimes lost all comprehension of time and just stared at the screen of my Kindle to understand just how long is this book anyway ? This was not really since I was bored but after a while ...more
Ashok Rao
Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A page turner! I doubt I will ever forget the characters from this novel. Ganesh Gaitonde, Sartaj Singh and Kamble will always remain etched in my memory. I was sad when I finished reading this thriller.
Julie Christine
This utterly rocked. It's epic crime fiction story set in the epic city of Bombay, weaving in the Indian mafia, Bollywood, Eastern philosophy, the class of ancient India and a thoroughly modern society, love, lust, loss. Yet its protagonist and reluctant hero, Sikh policeman Sartaj Singh is down-to-earth, an ambivalent but ultimately honest cop swimming against the flood of corruption and temptation in a city he loves. This is a 900 page undertaking but it moves with a terrific storyline and fas ...more
Jul 31, 2007 rated it liked it
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
T. Scott
Sep 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 11, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Mar 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
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".

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 life and un
Jul 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Sacred Games could have been brief, maybe that's why they made it into a Netflix series. It was a long story with powerful characters.

I loved the approach with alternate chapters but they were inconsistent except for the last chapters. There were also casual and parallel plots which made me feel tiresome and call it a day.
Atul Sabnis
I'll ignore the insets when I write about this book. Being from Mumbai and someone who loves 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. ...more
Rohit Sharma
Nov 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I had no idea of this book's existence till the city was decorated with huge hoardings of Netflix Original TV Series "Sacred Games". With half of it showing Saif Ali Khan as Sartaj Singh the good Cop and remaining half of it showing Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the Hindu Don Ganesh Gaitonde :). The day it came out, I saw a copy of the book at the nearest Crosswords and realized that there was no way I could have finished the book before going ahead with the TV series. And on top of that, the TV series ...more
K.J. Charles
That was a hell of a ride. A gigantic epic sweep over India since Partition as told through a Hindu gangster, Ganesh Gaitonde, and a Sikh policeman present at his suicide, Sartaj Singh, plus side stories of a huge cast of minor characters. It's brutal, tender, funny, hopeful, despairing, filthy, religious, political, violent, divided, diverse and pretty much everything else you can get into 800 pages. Which is a lot. I am glad I read it on holiday so was able to glom it over three days, as the s ...more
Jul 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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. ...more
Dec 18, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chloe by:
Shelves: fiction, south-asia
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 interestin
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant novel. It would belong to the genre of a Literary thriller if there was one such. It, for the most part, follows the life of a gangster and that of a cop in parallel and how the lives of the two of them become interlinked. It is also what people call a Bombay novel in the sense it captures the seamier side of Mumbai in all its detail. It was like reading a work of fiction that was based on 'Maximum city: Mumbai lost and found' by Suketu Mehta. At 950 pages, it is the 2nd biggest nove ...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
Ben Thurley
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
Glorious. Almost unutterably wonderful.

It is simply sublime how Vikram Chandra makes poetry and spine-tingling human drama from what – on the face of it – should be an overstuffed airport-novel blend of police procedural, espionage thriller, love story and gangster tale. Sacred Games is rich, ribald, cunning, sharply plotted (for all its sprawling 900 pages) and it mainlines deep into your brain through sentences of sensuous beauty.

From the first sentence of the first chapter, "Policeman's Day",
May 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who loves crime sagas
Wow this was surely a BIG book at exactly 900 pages it was a big book and it took me a long time to finish with all my job and everything and while I finished this book I also finished few books alongside it. Now famously Vikram Chandra took 7 years to write this book and funnily enough it took me almost 7 years to read it after buying it. I bought it in Dec-2006 and started reading this year. Now onto the book well this is a vast book, with two main story-lines and then different story-lines th ...more
Feb 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 07, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
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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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