Sacred Games (now int'l BOOKRING)

by Vikram Chandra | Mystery & Thrillers |
ISBN: 9780571231218 Global Overview for this book
Registered by book-man-8 of Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg Germany on 9/17/2007
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
12 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by book-man-8 from Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg Germany on Monday, September 17, 2007
A real "monster" of a book with more than 900 pages! It's an incredible and utterly fascinating epic "out of Mumbai". There is everything: greed, crime, power, yogis, love, sex and even nuclear bombs! For the reader not knowing much about India or Mumbai it's a tremendous and whirling discovery! A really different thriller. As a little help for the readers understanding: 1 lakh equals 100'000 rupees, about € 1'800,00, 100 lakhs = 1 crore. Of course there are quite a lot of words not translated, especially regarding foodstuffs, texts of famous songs and some not so politically correct words. There is also much about "Bollywood" movies, actresses and actors. But the main story evolves around two people, one a police inspector the other a gangster who started very small and got bigger and bigger with more and more power ind influence. I also liked the part on the more mystic hinduism. A marvellous book I took several days to read. And I wouldn't have minded if it had got on and on! I'll see to it that it comes in special hands.

Edit, October 20, 2007: Therefore I just decided to make a "unrequested" bookray out of it, I'll just make a list of a very few bookcrossing-friends of whom I think they really might enjoy this book. These are the bookcrossers (as the book is quite a "monster" you may take a little bit longer to read it, I allow 2 months instead of one... ;-) ):

"bilbi" from Chambéry, Rhône-Alpes, France (int'l)
"penelopewanders" from Hasliberg, Switzerland (int'l)
"iliotropio" from Brussels, Bruxelles / Brussel, Belgium (int'l)
"perryfran" from Rockville, Maryland, USA (int'l)
"Pooker3" from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (int'l)
"loveamystery" from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (?)
"chich from Perpignan, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
back to
"Book-Man-8" - thanks!


This unrequested bookray starts with "bilbi". The book is on its way to France. Hope you'll really enjoy it!

Journal Entry 3 by bilbi from Chambéry, Rhône-Alpes France on Saturday, November 03, 2007
Thanks for this huge "unrequested ray" ! Thanks ??!!
How did you know that such a book will appeal to me ? ;-)
On the back cover Time Out writes : "a book about violence, greed, yachts, mafia yogis, nuclear bombs, Partition and Miss India competitions..."
That sounds great !
I hope I can read the book in two months' time...

What a nice surprise \o/

Thanks for the nice "bird" card !

I recognise most of the bc names on this 'ray ;-)

Journal Entry 4 by bilbi from Chambéry, Rhône-Alpes France on Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Thank you for this "unrequested" bookray \o/

It was really a great book ! It will be published in France next January (or is February ?) : it's a MUST-READ !

I can't wait to read penelopewanders' journal entry on receiving this book. I had to ask for her address and I told her that I had a book for her. She gave her address and was wondering which book I was talking about... I kept my mout shut ;-)

I will problably put a post-it on the cover with "don't blame me !" on it ;-o


Journal Entry 5 by wingpenelopewanderswing from Hasliberg, Bern / Berne Switzerland on Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Ah, I feel very privileged to be admitted into the inner sanctum of this "unrequested ray"! Fun.... I don't blame anyone - seems to me I've read and really enjoyed something by this author (something like Unequal Music???? I guess I could try to look up the title). Anyway, as this is one of the busiest times of year for me work-wise, I will allow myself a little flexibility with the two months. No real holidays until Easter, but I think I'll have a long train journey in January or first week of February, which should do the trick if I haven't succumbed to the siren song of this book before then. Anyway, it's not lost, but here up in the alps. Thanks so much, I look forward to plunging in.

Journal Entry 6 by wingpenelopewanderswing from Hasliberg, Bern / Berne Switzerland on Monday, February 18, 2008
December: I received this book as a surprise ray - but as it's very long and heavy to schlep around, I have to wait until I have a bit more time to tuck into it. Did bring it to a choir rehearsal today with lots of sitting around, but hard to get into it with everything going on around me and needing to watch out for cues.

February Update:
I feel a bit guilty for keeping this ray so long, but I finally had two long train trips and was able to tackle it seriously then. I sometimes felt the story was in fact too long, although at the same time I was caught up in the saga. I would not have minded a glossary, as there were times when I felt left out (although usually that was when the various characters quoted songs, so I could almost imagine what that would have been, but still. I did enjoy plunging into Mumbai (sometimes my mouth watered when reading the descriptions of the food!)
I have PMed to confirm the next address (I have it, but realized I should check it's still valid).
Thanks so much for including me in this ray and again sorry it stalled so long here - hope to get the book on its way later this week.


This is now making its stealthy way to Brussels... thanks so much for including me in this ray!

Journal Entry 8 by iliotropio from Bruxelles / Brussel, Bruxelles / Brussel Belgium on Tuesday, March 04, 2008
I came back from my holidays yesterday evening and it had been waiting for me in the post office this morning. Thank you penelopewanders!

Journal Entry 9 by iliotropio from Bruxelles / Brussel, Bruxelles / Brussel Belgium on Monday, April 21, 2008
Many thanks book-man-8 for the lovely surprise! This book has been an absolute feast! On its way to perryfran.
BTW, the book penelopewanders is referring to should be An Equal Music by Vikram Seth. His other book A Suitable Boy is one of my all time favourites.

Journal Entry 10 by wingperryfranwing from Elk Grove, California USA on Friday, May 02, 2008
WOW! A surprise bookray from book-man-8! This looks like its my kind of book from the review on the cover -- "Bursts at the seams with sex, violence, corruption, and death."

This was waiting for me when I returned from a family trip to Utah along with another bookray -- The Judas Strain -- from book-man-8. Hope to get to these soon but I have a few in front of them
Publishers Weekly Review
Mumbai in all its seedy glory is at the center of Vikram Chandra's episodic novel, which follows the fortunes of two opposing characters: the jaded Sikh policeman, Sartaj Singh, who first appeared in the story "Kama," and Ganesh Gaitonde, a famous Hindu Bhai who "dallied with bejewelled starlets, bankrolled politicians" and whose "daily skim from Bombay's various criminal dhandas was said to be greater than annual corporate incomes." Sartaj, still handsome and impeccably turned out, is now divorced, weary and resigned to his post, complicit in the bribes and police brutality that oil the workings of his city. Sartaj is ambivalent about his choices, but Gaitone is hungry for position and wealth from the moment he commits his first murder as a young man. A confrontation between the two men opens the novel, with Gaitonde taunting Sartaj from inside the protection of his strange shell-like bunker. Gaitonde is the more riveting character, and his first-person narrative voice lulls the reader with his intuitive understanding of human nature and the 1,001 tales of his rise to power, as he collects men, money and fame; creates and falls in love with a movie star; infiltrates Bollywood; works for Indian intelligence; matches wits with his Muslim rival, Suleiman Isa; and searches for fulfillment with the wily Guru Shridhar Shukla. Sartaj traces Gaitonde's movements and motivations, while taking on cases of murder, blackmail and neighborhood quarrels. The two men ruminate on the meaning of life and death, and Chandra connects them as he connects all the big themes of the subcontinent: the animosity of caste and religion, the poverty, the prostitution and mainly, the criminal elite, who organize themselves on the model of corporations and control their fiefdoms from outside the country. Chandra, who's won prizes and praise for his two previous books, Red Earth and Pouring Rain and Love and Longing in Bombay, spent seven years writing this 900-page epic of organized crime and the corruption that spins out from Mumbai into the world of international counterfeiting and terrorism, and it's obvious that he knows what he's talking about. He takes his chances creating atmosphere: the characters speak in the slang of the city ("You bhenchod sleepy son of maderchod Kumbhkaran," Gaitonde chastises). The novel eventually becomes a world, and the reader becomes a resident rather than a visitor, but living there could begin to feel excessive.

Update 21 June 2008: Started reading this today - sorry it took so long to get to but I had several other bookrings I had to read. This one is rather lengthy (almost 1000 pages) so it may take me a few weeks. Hope to get it moving in July.

Journal Entry 11 by wingperryfranwing from Elk Grove, California USA on Saturday, July 26, 2008
Just finished this book – it took me several weeks but it was well worth the time invested. It was really a monster of a book (as book-man-8 said)! I read this a little each day as I traveled back and forth to work on the Metro rail. I feel like I have been immersed in Indian culture and life in modern day Mumbai and was sorry to see it end. This book has really led to an interest and better understanding of life in India. It was full of interesting characters and sub-plots – mystery, romance, food, relationships, history, drama – you name it. Chandra is really a genius in weaving all of this together telling the story of gangsters, corrupt politicians and policemen, prostitutes and holy men, terrorists and Bollywood actresses. At first, I really found it hard to read all of the foreign vocabulary in context – I kept wanting to look up words (which I did quite often). I found most of them were either profanities or I could not find definitions so I decided to just take the words in context. When I did this the novel started to flow much faster. I also have found myself unconsciously cursing in Hindi under my breath to let out frustrations (You maderchod bhenchod chutiya!!). Overall – a high recommendation! Thanks book-man-8 for including me in this “unrequested bookray.” When I first received this, I wasn’t so sure I really wanted to read it but am glad I did!

I have contacted Pooker3 and have her address so will get this in the mail today. I just told her it was a book from book-man-8. Here’s her reply: “You know I'm scratching my head here wondering which book-man-8 ring I've signed up for! I sneaked a peek at his bookshelf just now but then realized I've been tempted by almost all of the books he offers up as rings. So, I'm none the wiser. I'm really hoping my befuddlement is not another age thing. :) Maybe I'll have to start making lists. Nah. Surprise is good!”

Journal Entry 12 by wingperryfranwing at by mail, A Bookray -- Controlled Releases on Saturday, July 26, 2008

Released 11 yrs ago (7/26/2008 UTC) at by mail, A Bookray -- Controlled Releases



Sending on to Pooker3 in Winnipeg, Canada. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 13 by Pooker3 from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Saturday, August 16, 2008
The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here!
I came home from holidays to find this massive tome on my desk. Really book-man-8, are you mad? Nine hundred and forty-seven pages!

But judging from the cover blurbs, it does look like it will be fabulous reading. Thanks book-man-8 for including me in this surreptitious ray. What fun!

Thanks for the postcard perryfran. The tiger cubs are so cute. Coincidentally, perhaps even at the moment this parcel arrived in Winnipeg, I was at the Calgary zoo having a gander at their baby elephant and a two week old giraffe, also too darling for words.

Journal Entry 14 by Pooker3 from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Friday, October 24, 2008
I turned the last page of this book a few days ago and pmed loveamystery for her address. I was reluctant to post my review right away thinking that loveamystery would be perplexed as to what was coming her way and would try to figure that out. I surmised all she had to do, being a winged member, was to check out my most recently journaled books and that would be the end of the surprise.

As it happens though, I haven't heard back from loveamystery yet and judging from the lack of activity on her shelf and a few of her own journal entries, I suspect she's on holidays. So I'm going to jot my thoughts down now in the hopes that by the time she does check (if she does) this book will be well buried under others recently journaled.

Now to be honest when I started reading this book I had some misgivings as to whether I'd actually finish it. I don't think I've ever read a book of almost 1000 pages even when I had plenty of time to read. Nowadays I don't have a lot of time and reading is for the most part confined to those few minutes before bed that I can keep my eyes open long enough. On average this translates to about 10 pages of reading. And, it's not like this was the only book on my night table.

Not only that, but this book is not the easiest to handle either. It requires two hands to hoist it to eye level, and two hands to hold it open. This was especially problematic for the first few chapters when the pure weight of the tome held in my right hand would pull the few pages I had read back towards it any time I lifted my left hand from the page.

But I persevered, trusting that book-man-8 wouldn't actually have sent me a phone book.

Continuing on the honesty kick, I was also not too sure I wanted to read a book set in India either. After all, I had sent another weighty tome, a hard cover version of Shantaram (also over 900 pages and set in India) off to England, unread, at a princely sum for postage, so anxious was I to get rid of it.

There's lots of places in the world I'd like to visit but India has never been one of those and, oh bother, as I was reading it soon became apparent that the book although written in English is packed with foreign words that the author does not define and which are totally foreign to me. If they had been Spanish or French or Italian or Latin words I would not have grumbled. While not fluent in any of those languages, I have enough background in them, that I can usually make a pretty good guess at their meaning. Not here though and I found I could not abide not knowing what the words meant. For the most part, I could generally intuit that the author was talking about some kind of food, or a building of sorts or, in the case of dialogue, that the characters were insulting or teasing each other. But I wasn't happy with such lack of precision, so was prompted to look up the meanings of these foreign terms. In doing so I discovered the author's website has a glossary for the book. Yay! I had a great time exploring the glossary, hoping to pick up words before I came across them. In doing so I became quite "well-versed"(not that I could ever read anything entirely written in the language or understand the spoken word at all) and it did give me some confidence in my reading and added to the sense of being immersed in the culture.

And the author does a very good job of that. You do become immersed in the culture and I can safely say, I still have no desire to visit India. I got a sense of the filth and smells, of the mass of people and of the crime, petty and not-so. That is not to say I could not experience the same in my own country, I could but I can also avoid it easily. I suspect it is not so easily avoided in India. Still I can appreciate that the characters (and no doubt the author himself) would love their country, despite all that and see the beauty in it.

I found it particularly interesting how my sympathies toward the characters shifted from time to time. I saw Sartaj Singh as a good man most of the time, but then when he skims some money for himself, even while realizing that that's what is done, what is expected even, I'd think to myself, "Oh ho, you're not such a good guy afterall." Similarly, while you want to think of Gaitonde as all bad, (How could he be otherwise when killing is as commonplace and irrelevant as putting on one's socks in the morning), there were moments when you felt sympathy towards him and even moments when you were amused and felt kindly towards him.

All in all, a marvelous book - one I will remember - and not just because of its size. Thanks book-man-8. I've still not heard from loveamystery, so will pm her again.

Journal Entry 15 by Pooker3 at Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Thursday, November 06, 2008

Released 11 yrs ago (11/6/2008 UTC) at Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada



on its way to loveamystery today. The smartie pants says she's figured it out!

Journal Entry 16 by loveamystery from Vancouver, British Columbia Canada on Friday, November 21, 2008
This book arrived a week ago and I am just journalling it due to my home computer being out of commission. Thanks so much for sending it, Pooker3. It may take a while to read.

Journal Entry 17 by loveamystery at Bookring, Book Ring -- Controlled Releases on Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Released 11 yrs ago (1/28/2009 UTC) at Bookring, Book Ring -- Controlled Releases



This book is on its way to chich. Unfortunately, I read a little of it, but couldn't seem to get into it, so I thought I had better pass it on to the next person.

Journal Entry 18 by chich from Sant Antoni de Portmany, Illes Balears/Islas Baleares Spain on Monday, March 02, 2009
Image hosting by Photobucket Book received today, thanks so much for passing it on loveamystery and thanks for starting this ring book-man-8!

Now I understand why I couldn't remember signing up for this;o) Great idea book-man-8, as usual! Thanks so much for including me:o)

Journal Entry 19 by chich from Sant Antoni de Portmany, Illes Balears/Islas Baleares Spain on Sunday, March 15, 2009
Ok, I have to admit I was a bit discouraged when I first saw how thick the book was;) Although I felt some parts of the book dragged on a bit, I really enjoyed the read:) I particularly liked the Indian setting and the "Mumbai immersion"! Thanks again for sharing book-man-8, only you could come out with such a surprise ray:o)

I'm currently traveling on business and will only be able to send the book back to Germany on March 23. I'll journal again as soon as the book is on its way!

Journal Entry 20 by chich from Sant Antoni de Portmany, Illes Balears/Islas Baleares Spain on Monday, March 23, 2009
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Book sent to book-man-8 today, merci encore Jean-Luc!

Entry #20 for the 2009 Keep Them Moving Challenge

Journal Entry 21 by book-man-8 from Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg Germany on Thursday, March 26, 2009
The book is back home! Thanks for all your interesting comments!
It's now ready to travel on...

The follwoing bookcrossers read along:

"Hayes13" from Rome, Lazio, Ital - worldwide
"chucklesthescot" from PAISLEY, Renfrewshire, United Kingdom (UK)
"Ardachy" Colchester, Essex, United Kingdom (Europe)

Back to "Book-Man-8"

Journal Entry 22 by book-man-8 at on Monday, March 30, 2009

Released 11 yrs ago (3/30/2009 UTC) at



The book is moving again, now off to Italy. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 23 by wingHayes13wing from Roma, Lazio Italy on Friday, April 03, 2009
This has just arrived! A beautiful, well-worn, well-read book... a book with a lovely past history. I can't wait to read it. Thank you Book-man 8!

Journal Entry 24 by wingHayes13wing at --By Post or by Hand, Scotland United Kingdom on Sunday, May 10, 2009

Released 10 yrs ago (5/13/2009 UTC) at --By Post or by Hand, Scotland United Kingdom



I am not in the right frame of mind for this, so I am sending it on its way. A shame, really, as it is fun in a strange way... just not for me right now.

EDIT: Change of plan ... I am sending this today (May 18) to Colchester, UK

Hope the rest of you enjoy it!

Journal Entry 25 by wingardachywing from Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom on Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Arrived in the post today. Thank you Hayes13 and Book-Man-8. I will tackle this monster as soon as I have finished my current read.

Journal Entry 26 by wingardachywing from Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom on Friday, June 19, 2009
It took me the best part of three weeks to read this epic. I agree with so many of the comments already made. For me the great strength of the novel was how complex and well developed the two main characters are. The atmosphere of India in general and Mumbai in particular also made it a worthwhile read. The plot certainly took some following at times but it never became impossible. The great use of languages other than English was just another bonus.

Thanks again for including me in this 'unrequested bookray' book-man-8.

ETA 8/8/09 book-man-8 kindly agreed that I could release this book at a local meet-up. Taken to the Cafe Nero at Ipswich.

Journal Entry 27 by wingsoffitta1wing from Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom on Saturday, August 08, 2009
Just received a copy of one of his other books in my Asia-themed Bookbox, so snaffled this one from the Ipswich meetup. Planning to pack it into my suitcase and take it back to Portugal to be read and passed on there.

I have just finished this, but am going away today for a couple of days, so will fill this in when I get back.

Selected from ApoloniaX's Asian VBB by Dancesports, so the book is off to Australia! Sent 14/12.

Journal Entry 28 by Dancesports from Petcheys Bay, Tasmania Australia on Monday, January 04, 2010
I'm on holidays and away from home but arranged for themail to be collected on Saturday, this was among 4 book parcels. My first parcel from Portugal. I can't wait to read this one but I need to finish some other books for the Asian VBB first.

Are you sure you want to delete this item? It cannot be undone.