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Sacred Games [Paperback]

Vikram Chandra
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Mar 2007
To win is to lose everything and the game always wins. This is a novel of friendships and betrayals, violence and loss set in the vibrant city of Mumbai.


Product details

  • Paperback: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; New edition edition (1 Mar 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571231209
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571231201
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12 x 5.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,321,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Lavish, accomplished, and.elegant.[SACRED GAMES] offers Western readers a panoramic view of contemporary India." -- Tennessean --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

'To win is to lose everything ... and the game always wins' --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking width and depth!! 21 Sep 2006
Format:Hardcover
This truly is an epic. At first sight, I thought Vikram Chandra was just trying to match his namesake (the more famous Vikram Seth, author of other 'epics' like A Suitable Boy) by writing a long novel (it is long at 900 pages!). But as I started reading it, I realised that this was not just long, but wide and deep.

The author's breadth is dizzying - the story goes from the murky world of the Mumbai mafia-style underworld, to international terrorism, to the workings of the Indian bureaucracy, to the intelligence services investigating Islamic fundamentalism, to the traumas of the Partition of the Indian sub-continent 60 years ago, to the sidelines of the inside workings of Bollywood....

But, it is not just the breadth of the canvas that is breath-taking. This is not a superficial skimming of several sub-plots. It is the depth with which Vikram has researched each of these sub-plots and gone into not just describing the superficial external happenings there, but the intricate workings inside the minds of the people involved. He has gone right into the depths of the mind of a Mumbai don, a Mumbai policeman, an intelligence officer, a family uprooted at Partition....

It is hard to imagine that a 900-page book could be unputdownable - but this one was for me. I lost touch with the outside world for a week while I read this for several hours everyday.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating insight 24 Sep 2006
By Amazon Customer TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
This is one of those books I just liked the look of without knowing a great deal of what to expect.What I got was a book written with a passion for a cracking story, peopled by lifelike individuals all living uneasily together distrusting the stranger,despising the immigrant and constantly aware of caste and social standing.

Chandra's Sartaj Singh is a policeman with all sorts of problems and when a big time gangster seemingly falls into his lap life becomes increasingly complicated for him.

Vikram Chandra has written a great story here and what has really sold me is the way he paints Mumbai and various parts of India with such detail and colour. Usually a keen eye for detail can bore rigid but that is avoided as the story belts along right through. You are shown how people survive,( or not ), and a whole world opens up before the reader as pages turn and a new and captivating soul strolls, often briefly, across the story.

That Sartaj sticks out as a rare Sikh at work in the Mumbai police force adds yet more tension.

There are some Asian referrences that can be looked up on-line at the publishers website but to be honest I didn't as I wanted the feeling of mystery and another world unfolding to remain. It certainly didn't spoil my enjoyment of this book one little bit.

There is so much to enjoy as the characters seemingly meander about the story whizzes along and you find yourself drawn deep into the huge world the author paints.

Give this one some of your time and you will find so much to savour and plenty will linger on in your mind long after you finish the last page.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a taste of bombay 10 Jan 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It's about hope and courage in a time of Kaliyug, of chaos, death and destruction - symbolised and realised as Bombay. It talks about random meaningless death, and random meaningless survival and how all of us choose our own way through life.

In addition to the plot elements you probably already know, the striking thing about it is - it's a book full of smells, from the slums, the traffic, the street stalls... Bombay sheer reeks off the pages. It's a book rich in character and tone (I especially enjoyed the untranslated Bombay slang), and still leaves you with the impression that you've seen the merest snapshot of the real Bombay - that there are countless millions of untold stories in this one city.

Yes ok, as a story - it wanders somewhat... as a read, it drags in places. It took me 3 months to finish it and I was let down a little by the ending which simply deflates after the painstakingly developed tension. (I think perhaps it just needed a surprise twist

Despite this it's thoroughly engrossing - particularly the internal identity struggles of the macho paranoid don Gaitonde, the existential soul searching of the inspector Sartaj, and the matter of fact detailing of administrative corruption in modern India.

Recommended for those with a bit of time to spare and some patience.

And if you enjoyed it, read Don Delillo's Underworld (if you haven't already).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thriller and social study in one 30 April 2008
By reader 451 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Vikram Chandra's Sacred Games combines the attractions of genre literature with a meticulous social portrayal of that most fascinating of countries: modern India.

The novel's chosen format is that of a detective story, with ex-playboy, philosophically inclined Sikh police inspector Sartaj Singh chasing the tail of Bombay's most notorious gangster boss. We are also given the gory and satisfyingly prurient tale of the gangster's rise to chiefdom. But it is best never to betray too much of a thriller's plot. Suffice it to mention that the storyline takes on nationally and even internationally threatening dimensions, as well as going through the Bombay mob and the police's more modest, everyday battles.

The pace never flags through the book's massive 900 pages. No doubt Chandra is a capital storyteller, but this also owes something to the author's evident knowledge of his subject and acquaintance with the travails of the Bombay police force; one can feel the author has sweated and put in the hours for his reader. And beyond this, whole swathes of Indian society are put under the microscope. This is no set-piece version of sacred, historical India. What we have is an equally brutal and endearing, and invariably contradictory picture of a country in full transformation. Sacred Games ranges from the Bollywood scene to Bengali slums, from Naxalite battlegrounds to new-rich condominiums and from the Singhs' family farm in Maharashtra to the corridors of power in Delhi. It even manages to make the inevitable expository piece about the partition tragedy realistic and appealing.

The writing is elegant without - surprisingly for such a tome - being wordy, granting a large place to dialogue.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning in so many respects
This is an extraordinary book, rich on many levels. A thriller, a series of overlapping and nested stories, a multi-level description of Bombay/Mumbai and of religious and ethnic... Read more
Published 23 hours ago by beautifullife
4.0 out of 5 stars Fifth time's the charm . . .
I bought this book a few years back and started it on four seperate occasions but never got beyond Fluffy flying from an apartment window. Read more
Published 8 months ago by The Ronoc
5.0 out of 5 stars exceptional novel of the bleak, brutal and humane
I like to keep five stars for the truly great, and preferably would like six for some books, like this one, an exceptional novel on many levels, an epic thriller, a lapidary social... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Angus Jenkinson
3.0 out of 5 stars Great writing, 95% good story and characters satisfying in their...
This is almost a great Indian novel. It burns along engaging the reader in a mixture of crime thriller, political discourse and a great seething monster of a city that has a life... Read more
Published 20 months ago by "Belgo Geordie"
5.0 out of 5 stars Ooooooofffff! What a breathtaking funny, clever, cannot put down read
I'd never heard of the writer before but he is amazingly well written.
Read the book a few years back and have recently rediscovered some new titles which i am eager to waste... Read more
Published 23 months ago by K. Bhudia
4.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, saturating epic: 'Godfather' for the Indian sub-contintent
This is a dazzling, complicated, bewildering and magnificently compelling novel set in modern India. Its reach is extensive. Read more
Published on 17 Dec 2011 by Rowena Hoseason
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful novel
I picked up Sacred Games in an airport bookshop not at all knowing what to expect. The name made me think of Mary Renault, but this proved to be something quite different... Read more
Published on 13 Dec 2011 by Grimalkin
2.0 out of 5 stars Long, sometimes tedious and far too much Hindi
I love Indian novels and was really looking forward to reading this on the Kindle especially as it had good reviews. Read more
Published on 9 Dec 2011 by Fell from Grace
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply outstanding
It took me only a week to read a 1,000 pages novel so no wonder I really enjoyed it. For, as for many other readers, this novel has been a cornerstone in Indian fiction written in... Read more
Published on 23 Oct 2011 by Habas con Choco
4.0 out of 5 stars it is looooong, too loong
The story of a detective and a mafia baron are very well written and I was moved by the characters (good or bad). Read more
Published on 10 July 2011 by Jose
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