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Red Earth and Pouring Rain Paperback – 3 Jan 1998

3.8 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 600 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; New edition edition (3 Jan. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571174566
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571174560
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 4.4 x 12.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,038,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This massive, complex, multi-facetted book can be read in many ways: as a contemporary attempt to recapture the epic complexities of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana; as a diatribe against the evils of colonialism (both the nineteenth-century British version and its new American counterpart); as an attack on the emptiness of modern capitalist consumerism... No doubt all true in their way, but for me the most astute comment on the book comes from Adam Thorpe (a man who knows a thing or two about storytelling himself): "telling a story - hundreds of them - becomes its own life-preserving act".
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.
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Format: Paperback
You won't read a bad review of this book anywhere. Many will claim it is a work of greatness, other will use the word 'genius'. Most will tell you that the charm of the book comes from the characterisation, the vivid images of India (and Indian culture) and the warmth of the narrative.
All true.
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.
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By A Customer on 12 Jun. 2002
Format: Paperback
A superbly evocative and magical tour of India from colonial days to..... (ah, to tell you taht would give far too much away. Beautifully written, from an Indian perspective throwing light on many aspects of native life, passions, gods and lives. You can actually feel the heat, the rains, the beauty, the mystery of India. An excellent book. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
Red Earth and Pouring Rain is a remarkable novel. The author has spun a web of intriguing stories, exploring the impact of British colonialism on India and the Indian people.
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.
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Format: Paperback
If you like intellectual structured literary exercises read the phone directory (or Salman Rushdie); if however you like rambling magic poetry then read this. The style and story could only be Indian. A monkey steals some jeans from a washing line and ends up typing out a magical story of a past life in British India in a desperate attempt to avoid reincarnation as a crustacean. His judges are an anxious crowd of locals hanging on his every word and a few unseen members of the Hindu pantheon to boot. In return the owner of the jeans recounts some of his vacuous life as a student in the USA which is a telling counterpoint to the richness of the Indian past. Like so much that is Indian, its not the meaning or the analysis that matters, it's the characters, the strangeness, the many small but sharp observations and the evocation of a sense of vast time and space that make it such immense fun to read The book often jumps: from past to present, India to America, comedy to drama. Some won't like this but if you have any sympathy for real storytelling, Bollywood and the many contradictions that are so much a part of India then READ THIS BOOK. Did I like it? No, I loved it.
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