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4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Ambition and talent in need of an editor July 5 2004
I basically enjoyed this book, but after finishing it I slightly resented having spent so much time reading it. Like MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN, RED EARTH AND POURING RAIN is a sprawling, ambitious novel with strong exotic elements depicted in vivid prose. However, like MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN, it is also FAR too long and could have easily been pruned of at least a hundred pages. The story of Kyrie, for example, despite taking up many pages, added nothing to the main story and could easily have been dispensed with. I also think that knowledge of Indian history, Hindu mythology and the rules of cricket would be helpful to properly appreciate this book. My knowledge of these subjects is very vague, so I'm sure there's a lot I missed. There are several stories going at once and not all of them have logical ties to each other. There are a lot of loose ends. I also feel that the whole tone of the book shifted right around the time the glowing child was born. The supernatural and allegorical elements came to the forefront and the story became tedious. (A character I liked changed his personality and chopped off his own head!) What was the point of continuing reading if everything I had read before didn't matter any more? This happened at about 400 pages into the book, so I felt obligated to finish the final 142 pages. It was a chore. I hope that the author will someday revise this book and get rid of all the extraneous and inconsistent elements. There's an excellent novel buried in this stack of words somewhere. I think Chandra is talented and I look forward to reading his short stories in LOVE AND LONGING IN BOMBAY. Perhaps in the shorter form he can be a more disciplined writer.
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5.0 out of 5 stars On Being Enchanted Feb. 24 2002
I am your basic omnivorous reader. I delight in stories of almost any kind (certain genres excluded) that are well-told. I make my living in the creative arts and so honor imagination wherever I find it.
Two weeks ago, while at the library, I searched the fiction shelves looking for treasure. As usual, I started at the top of the alphabetical arrangement of authors methodically pulling out titles and reading flyleaves. (I hope this technique will afford me a chance to read all of the great works of fiction. So far I haven't managed to get past the "C's" and I've been doing this for over 15 years.)
Chandra's book seemed to leap into my hands. I felt as if I should hug it or cradle it or in some other way protect it lest some other reader's psychic need draw it from my grasp into theirs. Without even reading the flyleaf I was certain I had found a book of serious magic.
As I will, I found two other books as safeguards against the possibility that I wouldn't enjoy Red Earth and Pouring Rain. I could have saved the effort.
For two weeks now I have devoured the book. I read excerpts to everyone I can tie down. I laugh out load if not at some humorous segment then simply in outright delight. I cry as I identify with the sorrows Chandra so perfectly portrays.
This is a steller work. Vikram Chandra has here worked a piece of art in mixed media. It is both realism and abstraction. It is infinitesimally jewel-like and thunderously monumental.
I am a 62 year old male. I have been feeling my age of late. September 11th sorrowed me for my country and my feelings for all humanity. Two things have restored my hope: the 2002 Winter Olympics and Vikram Chandra's wonderful gift.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I ought to have enjoyed it more than I did Dec 4 2001
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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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars a sparkling spellweaver!!
think of it like a strikingly attention grabbing face.... trying to analyze each individual feature gets you pretty much nowhere, each has its character and they all combine to... Read more
Published on Aug. 17 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic Realism within an Amazing Epic
I love this book! It pulled me in and wouldn't let go.
The main narrative follows the story of three "brothers" in their journeys of life, where magical --and... Read more
Published on Dec 17 2002 by "jeander"
4.0 out of 5 stars touching and well-written
The novel, Red Earth and Pouring Rain, although not a fast read, is well worth reading. The novel takes a unique view at the post-adolescent world of a college student, his primate... Read more
Published on April 26 2002 by ihgmd2b
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical Storytelling
Stories arising from ancient history, Indian mythology, the consequences of Imperialism, the experience of youth now and two hundred years ago. Read more
Published on Feb. 1 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This book was definitely the most unique novel I ever read. It's basically a story of a man who is reincarneted into a monkey(His name is Sanjay) and then must tell tales of his... Read more
Published on Oct. 14 2001 by Lauren
1.0 out of 5 stars Passion? Yes... Character development? No.
I started reading this book with enthusiasm. I was looking for a good summer read, an escape, something to dive into at the end of a long day at work. Read more
Published on Sept. 27 2000 by J. Young
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding !!!!
What can I say. I read this book a number of time whilst travelling through South America and it was the only one I wouldn't swap. The characters are alive and you feel for them. Read more
Published on Aug. 10 2000 by Scott Armstrong
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing opera prima
Following the same pattern used for "The Canterbury Tales" or Bocaccio's "Decamerone" Chandra writes a fantastic book, the best debut in years.
Published on April 4 2000 by Nicola Menicacci
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing and enthralling
What a delicious and intoxicating brew this book is! I found it hard to put it down, and sank into it gratefully each evening. Read more
Published on Dec 14 1999 by Mira
3.0 out of 5 stars Unimpressive
Vikram Chandra's "tapestry of stories" falls flat on its face so many times, I am amazed at the laudatory reviews it has received so far. Read more
Published on Dec 2 1999 by Chhavi Sachdev
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