Calcutta Chromosome(MP3)Lib(Unabr.) MP3 CD – Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged
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From Library Journal
Ghosh's latest novel, after the accaimed The Shadow Lines (LJ 5/1/89), is part medical thriller, part science fiction, and part literary conspiracy novel, but entirely readable.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Kirkus Reviews
New Yorker journalist and novelist Ghosh (The Shadow Lines, 1989, etc.) returns, this time with a confusing blur of science fiction, satire, epistemology, and ethnic alienation. When AVA/IIe, a nearly omniscient global computer system of the LifeWatch department in the densely bureaucratic International Water Council, discovers a fragment of an ID lost in the sea of information, Antar, a lonely, widower Egyptian who crunches numbers on the system in his drab Manhattan apartment, innocently directs the computer to reconstruct it, simultaneously activating hidden resources within the system while also jogging Antar's memory of the manic L. Murugan. Murugan (also known, with a cross-cultural wink, as Mr. Morgan) is a fastidious Indian and former LifeWatch employee whose obsession with malaria research compelled him to transfer to Calcutta in 1995, after which he abruptly vanished. As he did in The Shadow Lines, Ghosh jumbles chronology here, hopping restively from Murugan's feverishly surrealistic Calcutta to a chatty luncheon in which Murugan lectures interminably about malaria, then back to 1895, where Victorian scientists stumble on a Calcutta cabal in which individuals biologically transfer their personalities to achieve a kind of genetic reincarnation. At the heart of this dizzy mess is a comic examination of identity in an evolving multicultural milieu, but Ghosh's trademark touch for absurdist magical realism (The Circle of Reason) and ironic cultural clashes (the nonfiction In an Antique Land, 1993) renders the story this time both unreasonable and unbelievable. Densely intricate, logorrheic spoof of commercial suspense fiction from a skilled writer who should know better. (First printing of 40,000) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The turn of the phrase, the dialog, the manner of story telling was very
reminiscent of The
Moors Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie a book I have read but not reviewed
here yet. I don't want to make broad sweeping stereotypes regarding the
an Indian style, but I will at the minimum note in passing a similarity
between this and the one book I have read by Rushdie. </p>
Having said that I found this in the end an unsatisfying book. It was
a book of many things, science fiction, a medical history of malaria,
and a spiritual explanation of transmigration of the soul. I found it
a bit slow in starting up, once going my interest was peaked regarding
the mystery of the discovery of malaria and the hidden truth behind it,
however my main disappointment was that the resolution to the mystery
and the ending itself were poorly wrought. Barely even explained, unclearly
described I was left scratching my head with a "huh?" </p>
I don't know if I would recommend this book, I would state the caveats
and let you make your own choice.</p>
However, for all the blurb evocations, this is no Borges, nor Pynchon. I see why the comparisons were drawn, but there are some major plot and even ... call them philosophical... flaws that drag The Calcutta Chromosome back from a really good book to a fun read on the 'plane.
Basically, there is a vast and bizarre conspiracy, which, while entertaining, is founded on mushy, ill thought-out motives. There is an attempt to evoke an east/west - mysticism/logic thing, but it collapses under its own inconsistencies to reveal a balding plot device wearing a toupee of picturesque Oriental mystics.
Finally, there is quite a bit of pseudo-scientific and technological hand waving. This will bother some more than others. The point that technology can be like magic is relevant, and in places I can forgive the more nonsensical bits as contributing to a good story. There are other incidents, particularly the absurdly retrieved e-mail, which could have been tied into other themes in the story but weren't. Instead, I was left with the impression that Ghosh wrote himself into a bit of a corner and couldn't be bothered to take some more plausible method of getting himself out.
Sit back, fit together the edge pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, admire the pretty picture, and try not to be disappointed if you find a few of the middle pieces missing.
The story is so convoluted that summarizing it is tricky at best. We start in Manhattan of the not too distant future, where computers sort through endless data streams, requiring human attention only when something does not compute. Through a clue generated by his terminal, a computer technician gets immersed in the mysterious disappearance of an Indian colleague of his in Calcutta back in 1995. The Indian vanished while on trying to track down the truth behind Ronald Ross's discovery of the cure for malaria back in 1902. It seems the real-life Ross wasn't trained in medicine, yet his independent research led to a Nobel prize. Ghosh offers the explanation of shadowy cabal who seek to use the malaria virus in their schemes to transfer personality and thus gain immortality. It's a neat concept but becomes unnecessarily complicated and ultimately lost in the mishmash of subtexts on identity, empire, and culture-not to mention the labyrinthine structure of the telling. To Ghosh's credit, the descriptions of rundown future Manhattan, the teeming life of contemporary Calcutta, and turn of the century colonial India are all first rate. It's just a shame that the complicated narrative, with multiple time frames and flashbacks never manages to coalesce into a worthwhile payoff.
The central story line initially follows an obscure 1902 Nobel-prize winner of Medicine, Ronald Ross, who achieved major breakthroughs in malaria research he did in India. However, after reading Ross’s biography ...Amitav Ghosh puts some pertinent question marks behind Ross’s achievements.
Ghosh argues that Ronald Ross was a man of rather mediocre abilities. Until he started doing his malaria research, Ross had unsuccessfully pursued a literary career, being an ungifted, uninspired and unsuccessful poet and novelist. In a bizarre career switch, Ross started doing medical research in India. Yet, entirely on his own, he revolutionized our knowledge on malaria – by concluding his solitary research in the ridiculously short time-span of just three years.
This tale is told engagingly by Amitav Ghosh. To explain Ross’s success, Ghosh suggests the Ross was unknowingly manipulated by a mysterious gang of Indian beggar thugs, led by an old beggar queen invested with special powers.
But when the novel has reached this stage, somewhere halfway, Ghosh has clearly lost control over the storyline. There are sustained, but contorted and far-fetched attempts to link Ross’s adventures with New Yorkers living in a not-too-distant 21st century. To bridge this 100-year or so time gap, the story wildly jumps through space and time, leading the reader, in a haphazard fashion, to Egyptian villages, Finnish spiritists, Indian novelists and endless and utterly boring monologues. I flipped quickly through the last 90 pages to see where the novel would end. Unfortunately, nowhere.
Most recent customer reviews
I found the writing style very similar to other novels written by writers from India, a complex of characters, a hint of the mysterious, and a level of character interactions that... Read morePublished on July 29 2012 by maniq2
I loved the images the book evoked .I loved reading about the British in India and how they would behave and use euphemisms about the natives its so like how my mother and father... Read morePublished on Dec 25 2001 by Cheyanne
I read this book on a plane flight from India to the US. The story moves forward briskly and held my interest, so I'd definitely recommend the book to anyone who likes mysteries,... Read morePublished on July 12 2001
The book is fun to read undoubtedly. But the "conspiracy theory" seems to lack a clear motive. Read morePublished on June 23 2001 by Amazon Customer
The style of writing and the format were impressive. Murugan's character was well etched out and the author style of writing comes across in Murugans lines. Read morePublished on June 6 2001 by merril
Amitav Ghosh is a bright man, a very bright man. A bright man with a good imagination and a sure touch with plot development. Read morePublished on March 9 2001 by Carol Mathis
I met and introduced Ghosh at my university last year. Got to go to dinner with him and other faculty at Butler University. His work never disappoints me. Read morePublished on Feb. 8 2001 by Aliya Chaplin
This is one of the most fascinating books that I have read. Although the plot is sometimes abstruse, the story is almost always taut. Read morePublished on Sept. 27 2000 by Saurabh Chatterjee