Red Earth and Pouring Rain Paperback – 3 Jan 1998
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Red Earth and Pouring Rain is Vikram Chandra's stunning first book, 'One of the finest Indian novels of the decade.' (Shashi Tharoor) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Vikram Chandra was born in New Delhi. His first novel, Red Earth and Pouring Rain (1995) won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book and the David Higham Prize. Love and Longing in Bombay was first published in 1997 and won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book (Eurasia region) and was short-listed for the Guardian Fiction Prize. He has also co-written Mission Kashmir, an Indian feature film. His new novel, Sacred Games, was published by Faber and Faber in September 2006. Vikram Chandra currently divides his time between Mumbai and Berkeley, where he lives with his wife Melanie and teaches at the University of California. His work has been translated into eleven languages. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
And what a story it is. Indian student Abhay, recently returned from the U.S.A., shoots a monkey which is stealing food. The badly wounded creature, rescued by his horrified relatives, announces that it contains the soul of the poet Sanjay: when Yama, God of the Dead, turns up (rapidly followed by several other minor cabinet ministers of the Hindu pantheon), Sanjay negotiates a stay of execution in exchange for his life story. (The obvious parallel here is with Sheherazade in "The Thousand and One Nights", and certainly Chandra's novel is very much "about" the power of narrative.Read more ›
I have only one gripe: I'm not the fastest reader in the world, and as such I tended to read this book in small chunks, day to day. The trouble is that this book is composed of un uncountable number of seemingly unconnected stories, sometimes nested one inside another. No sooner have you met one character and situation than the author introduces another. And another. And another.
By half way through the book I was persistently looking back through the pages to remember who characters were and their significance to the story. Some characters also seemed to change names part-way through the book, which didn't help.
Another upshot of this writing style is that by half way through the book the reader (ie. me) hasn't yet come to grips with the overall plot, or direction, that the novel is taking. Any other book you read, you get yourself immersed in the story and by halfway you're starting to guess how things might work out. With this book you spend the first 300 pages digesting dozens and dozens of seemingly unconnected episodes involving disparite characters, and you never really get into the 'flow', making it difficult to care about what's going to happen next. I had to really force myself to carry on at one point.
By the time you've reached the last third of the book these 'episodes' are beginning to merge into a single narrative, which helps enormously.
Overall impression then? Oddly disjointed, sometimes frustratingly episodic (in the first half), but in the end a rich and satisying read.
With an overwhelming and often humorous use of symbolism, Chandra deals with events and issues that have shaped India with devastating consequences. Independence, partition and today's communal violence are all located in the social antagonisms unleashed by colonisation.
At its heart, Red Earth and Pouring Rain conveys the torment of being robbed of a cultural identity. The novel's many characters all struggle with a sense of being a stranger in a foreign land-a theme that Chandra explores using both Indian and European characters.
Out of these struggles for personal identity there come stories of resistance to colonial rule-from a Calcutta printer, who secretes hidden subversive messages in the books he prints, to the hero of the book who leads an armed mutiny against the British.
Few books, fiction or non-fiction, have got me thinking so much about India and the affects of British colonialism. The parallels for the new century couldn't be any closer.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is one of my favourite books. It is not easy to follow if you are reading it in small burst and really needs time to get properly emersed without getting lost. Read morePublished 1 day ago by maggie the cat
He enjoyed it and now wants to go to India. It was reccomended to me by a student of English literature in Dublin.Published on 11 Jan. 2014 by Mr. Eugen M. Schweitzer
When I read the first few pages of the book, I was captivated but the enjoyment ended there. Characters lacked depth. Read morePublished on 29 May 2013 by sunshine
I love a good, epic tale and read a lot of Indian fiction so I had high hopes for this novel. However, I really struggled with it. Read morePublished on 7 Dec. 2009 by cazldn
Let me start by saying this is a good read, a very good read in fact, I enjoyed it far more than many novels I've read recently and Chandra is a very talented story teller. Read morePublished on 6 Sept. 2009 by Michael J. Statham
Red Earth and Pouring Rain reads like the first shot of a great writer still finding his voice.
Chandra loosely intertwines two stories: one, set in India, an adventure... Read more
Vikram Chandra's debut novel has received significant critical acclaim, including the Commonwealth Writers Prize for the Best First Published Book, and a swag of favourable reviews... Read morePublished on 22 Mar. 2005