The Calcutta Chromosome: A Novel of Fevers, Delirium and Discovery. Amitav Ghosh, Author William Morrow & Company $23 (p) ISBN . A review, and links to other information about and reviews of The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh. The Calcutta Chromosome This novel has been described as “a kind of mystery thriller” (India Today). It brings together three searches: the first is that of an.

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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Amutav Page. From Victorian lndia to near-future New York, The Calcutta Chromosome takes readers on a wondrous journey through time as a computer programmer trapped in a mind-numbing job hits upon a curious item that calcuyta forever change his life.

When Antar discovers the battered I. Murugan, a man obsessed with the medical history of malaria, and into a magnificently complex world where conspiracy hangs in the air like mosquitoes on a summer night.

Paperbackpages. Published January 23rd by Harper Perennial first published Clarke Award for Best Novel To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Calcutta Chromosomeplease sign up. I was brought up in South kolkata, never heard of Bansdroni film society, does it exist?

Khalid Mahbub Nice comment Mr. I wrote ‘Nice Arnab’ with the smiley, but an error popped up stating the comemnt was too short.

So I now fill it up with …more Nice comment Mr. So I now fill it up with nonsence describing the previous nonsence, thankfully not in a never bt loop. I hope the comment was long enough to be accepted. See all 4 questions about The Calcutta Chromosome….

Lists with This Book.

The Calcutta Chromosome is a novel that breaks boundaries between what is real and what is not real. View all 3 comments. Feb 10, Riku Sayuj rated it really liked it Shelves: What was that Mr. An attempt at a new genre? A bold stroke at creating a uniquely Indian view on science and how it would have been if science research was driven by mystics and cults? The explanation that this is found only in the brain cells? It could have been so much better. However, because Ghosh keeps all the science strictly to the unreliable Murugan, it seems acceptable or at least pardonable – even when it is utter nonsense, we can take it as a man’s calcuta and carry on in the ride he has created for himself.

If the narrator had not climbed aboard the same train for the ride, not to mention adding the unnecessary ghost train or did I miss its significance all together? The book under-delivered on amltav merit but over-delivered on pure fun and that works, sometimes. View all calcuttx comments. I kept on making out some amitag of the book until I was hugely put off by the ghost train.

At the end, I calcuhta wanted to bang my head against the book. Who knows where I might have “discovered” myself after that. View all 5 comments. Sep 09, Arun Divakar rated it it was ok. I am at a loss trying to write down what exactly I felt after reading this book. Was it the fact that none of the mysteries got resolved after the last page? Was it the fact that contrary to my usual style of writing reviews I took a lot at other reviewers and find them creating interpretations for the web spun for this caclutta I have no answer but a feeling superficial though of being led down a long winding corridor and finally coming face on with a wall.

The premise I am at a loss trying to write down what exactly I felt after reading this book. The premise is very alluring: It is part sci-fi, part detective fiction with a thin layer of horror smeared on. On a personal note, I like the parts where the writer’s imagination takes leaps and bounds and comes up with fantastic outcomes. This is accomplished partly by the historic parts in the novel with the mystical components of eastern India being utilized.


The subtle usage of the secret societies of India that would later chrkmosome a rage thanks to a specific Mr. Brown is hard to miss too. Ammitav it all felt as a let down calcuttaa when the story nears its end. The ending was not convincing enough for me.

And it did not feel too much justified to all the journeys I undertook with the characters. It’s like you visit a new place and ask the natives for a wonderful sight to see. They ask you to walk a little further for a glorious lake.

You walk and walk and see no sign of it. Jan 21, Preeta rated it really liked it. Just completing the book, my mind is left swirling with unanswered questions but an implicit sense of understanding that there is something beneath this story about malaria and the scientist Ross across the past, present, and future.

Strikingly, the known facts about Ross are presented in a new light – making it a mystery about his discovery – it made me think how all flashes of brilliance are mysterious, like how Archimedes said “eureka!

But then, I realized that Ghosh must be alluding to the fact that what seems like a conspiracy is really fate bearing down on us – the Gods have their own designs. We just follow the light or choose not to and end up still “following” the metaphorical light, inadvertantly. Lutchman, Laakan, Lucky seems to be the god Lakshmana, the younger brother of Ram – who follows by Ram’s side as a constant companian for fourteen years on his journey in exile. This could mean that the three men – Ronald, Morgan and Antar – then unwittingly playing the role of Ram.

However, understanding this book is like the “Calcutta Chromosome” itself – knowing it means changing it or mutating it. I think I will have to muse a bit more about the significance of Antar as the only boy who escaped the rare outbreak of malaria in Egypt who is the “one” they seek as their perfect discoverer for perfect discovery. The one good thing that’s come out of my having sat through this is, I now know a thing or two about mosquitoes, parasites and Ronald Ross.

That’s a point in favour of Mr. The man is clearly a human encyclopaedia. Everything I’ve read of his, which admittedly isn’t a great deal, has been packed with technical detail about whatever subject it is that he’s taken upon himself to write about.

In The Sea of Poppieshe manages to build a powerful, thrusting narrative on the foundations of his t The one good thing that’s come out of my having sat through this is, I now know a thing or two about mosquitoes, parasites and Ronald Ross. In The Sea of Poppieshe manages to build a powerful, thrusting narrative on the foundations of his trademarked academic rigour, making it, in the process, the towering achievement it is; in The Hungry Tideon the other hand, there’s a sense of the facts dominating the somewhat rickety plot, but the book works nevertheless, because the facts themselves command interest.

The Calcutta Chromosome is, of all things, an attempt at science fiction, which falls flat because there’s almost nothing to chew on except the occasional monologue about the history and science of early tropical medicine. Fascinating as the subject is, it isn’t substantial enough to hold an entire novel up on its own merits, and the lesson in all of this is, books mustn’t be written for reasons of vanity alone; there’s a point to stories that hold one’s attention and tie up in the end.

Quite apart from that, and this comes as a surprise, the book is poorly written.

The dialogue is weak – in what seems like an attempt to give the story’s Mr. Murugan a little character, Ghosh saddles the poor man with cod-American speech, a move which has the opposite effect, and instantly cuts the poor man down to a caricature.


What makes me even more uneasy are the translations of Bengali figures of speech, done tactlessly and literally – this bothers me a little in The Hungry Tideand it bothers me a lot more with this book, appearing as it does amidst already leaden prose – chatar matha may fit seamlessly into Bengali; “umbrella head” sounds horrible and meaningless in English, and you’d think any author with an ear for dialogue would notice.

But the real crime is the plot. The entire story reads like something Ghosh made up as he went along – carroming wildly from era to era and sub-plot to sub-plot, all in aid of the thoroughly flimsy premise which has practically the entire city of Calcutta in on a senseless, unprofitable, untenable conspiracy, one which is neither interesting nor scary, merely On top of this, each time the narrative paints itself into a corner, along comes a bizarre and unworldly coincidence or digression which sorts it all out.

Now, I’m as willing to suspend my disbelief as the next man, but there’s a limit, and this “Lutchman was actually Laakhan!! Ana-whatever-it-was was actually the goddess of mosquitoes! In ghohs meanwhile, the devices used to build up tension – the ghost train, the ritual that one of the calcutfa stumbles upon in the abandoned house – are arbitrary and simplistic; they come across as sort of thing one may try to scare kids with, but won’t wash when you’ve paid money to read an award-winning novelist.

It’s hard to think of the book as anything more than an academic’s conceit, a ghossh fantasy too obscure to engage the lay reader. The Calcutta Chromosomoe finds Amitav Ghosh floundering out of his depth, plays to almost none of his strengths, revealing instead all his shortcomings as a writer.

The Calcutta Chromosome: A Novel of Fevers, Delirium & Discovery

It’s not worth the time one spends on it. View all 4 comments. Aug 15, Sara-Maria Sorentino rated it really liked it Chrlmosome But I really liked what I think? I got out of this book. That is by no means a takedown of this book, in fact it is to the author’s credit that amktav manages to do such a fantastic job across genres! I’m finding it very difficult to give a genre label to this work – fantasy, horror, thriller, medical mystery historical fiction – though sci-fi for some reason seems to be its accepted genre.

The plot uses a whole lot of themes – s “The Glass Palace” is one of my all time favourites, and I find it difficult to believe that it was written by the same author. The plot uses a whole lot of themes – science, chromlsome, religion, mythology, counter-science, even nihilism to a certain extent.

The Calcutta Chromosome: A Novel of Fevers, Delirium & Discovery by Amitav Ghosh

I can’t be sure but I also wonder if the author was firing a tiny salvo at a Western attitude towards Indian scholars, and how history has been written to glorify its authors. The story begins in a very relatable scenario with Antar, whose smart computer discovers an ID card belonging to a person who went missing in At the time of his disappearance, Murugan, a self proclaimed Ronald Ross expert had been in Calcutta, trying to find the actual story of how Ross made the discovery of malaria’s transmission.

While that might sound like a medical mystery you wouldn’t care about, the tale is far from it because what it leads to is the Calcutta Chromosome, a freak chromosome that is neither inherited from, or transmits to a gene pool!