Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sign in | Create Account

An Evening with Vikram Chandra

11/05/2007 6:30 PM 6"120
Vikram Chandra, Author, Lecturer, UC Berkeley

Description: In the tradition of his favorite childhood writers, Dickens, Thackeray and the "curiously forgotten James Hadley Chase," Vikram Chandra explores the seamier sides of human relations. In Chandra's latest, sprawling novel, Sacred Games, his backdrop is Bombay, a city steeped in corruption from head to toe. Reading three short sections, the author introduces us to some key characters, including Sartaj Singh, a detective from Chandra's last book, Love and Longing in Bombay, who navigates the underworld and politics; and Ganesh Gaitonde, a ruthless gangster who slashes and bribes his way to the top of a crime kingdom.

This book began as a little thriller, Chandra explains, but during his research with policemen and gang members, he realized that "local crime has links to things apparently far removed." Between local politics and criminals Chandra perceived "a constant exchange of power and value." But, he says, "If you're going to talk about politics in today's India, you cannot not talk about religion." And, he continues, "all of this exists within what's been called the great game, the struggle for power between nation states in the sub"continent."

Chandra acknowledges his debt to traditional thrillers and noir, but says that his aim is to twist tradition and make things real. That was one reason he chose the first person for his portrait of the gangster Gaitonde. Chandra seeks opportunities for "specificity and particularity" to advance his characters beyond cutouts and formula.

The book has received tremendous attention in India, and compelled many people to reveal unsavory personal encounters with corrupt politicians. Chandra notes dryly, "I've become the go"to guy for stories of badness. I'm kind of sick of this. I don't want to be in this violent, dirty world for the next eight years."

Chandra, while acknowledging the cinematic quality of his writing (not surprising given that his mother and other family members are in the Bollywood biz), says he much prefers sitting alone in a room for eight years cooking up a book, to the collaboration cauldron of movie"making. Sacred Games has been optioned, and says Chandra, "I think they're insane. I said, 'Save me two seats at the premiere. See you in three years.'"

About the Speaker(s): Vikram Chandra graduated from Pomona College in 1984, then attended the Film School at Columbia University in New York. He left film school halfway through to begin work on the novel,Red Earth and Pouring Rain. Chandra wrote the novel over several years, and worked with John Barth at Johns Hopkins University and with Donald Barthelme at the University of Houston. He obtained an M.A. at Johns Hopkins and an M.F.A at the University of Houston.

In 1997, Chandra wrote Love and Longing in Bombay, a collection of short stories, which won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book (Eurasia region. It was also short"listed for the Guardian Fiction Prize; and was included in "Notable Books of 1997" by the New York Times Book Review,. His latest book, Sacred Games, was published in 2007 in the U.S.

Host(s): School of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences, Literature Section

Comments (0)

It looks like no one has posted a comment yet. You can be the first!

You need to log in, in order to post comments. If you don’t have an account yet, sign up now!

MIT World — special events and lectures

MIT World — special events and lectures

Category: Events | Updated 11 days ago

Created
December 14, 2011 15:02
Category
Tags
License
All Rights Reserved (What is this?)
Additional Files


Viewed
1971 times

More from MIT World — special events and lectures

2004 Nobel Colloquium

2004 Nobel Colloquium

Added almost 3 years ago | 01:25:00 | 1855 views

Uncertainties in Climate Forecasts: Causes, Magnitudes and Policy Implications

Uncertainties in Climate Forecasts:...

Added almost 3 years ago | 01:26:00 | 2373 views

Carly Fiorina  Keynote Speech

Carly Fiorina Keynote Speech

Added almost 3 years ago | 00:51:14 | 1901 views

Voices from New Orleans: Design and Planning Diaspora

Voices from New Orleans: Design and...

Added almost 3 years ago | 01:21:00 | 1952 views

How Cancer Begins

How Cancer Begins

Added almost 3 years ago | 00:59:49 | 1845 views

Nanofabrication Technology: A View of the Future

Nanofabrication Technology: A View ...

Added almost 3 years ago | 01:16:00 | 2632 views