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The Calcutta Chromosome: A Novel of Fevers, Delirium & Discovery Paperback – January 23, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; First Printing edition (January 23, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380813947
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380813940
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #281,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Calcutta Chromosome is one of those books that's marketed as a mainstream thriller even though it is an excellent science fiction novel (It won the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award). The main character is a man named Antar, whose job is to monitor a somewhat finicky computer that sorts through mountains of information. When the computer finds something it can't catalog, it brings the item to Antar's attention. A string of these seemingly random anomalies puts Antar on the trail of a man named Murugan, who disappeared in Calcutta in 1995 while searching for the truth behind the discovery of the cure for malaria. This search for Murugan leads, in turn, to the discovery of the Calcutta Chromosome, which can shift bits of personality from one person to another. That's when things really get interesting. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta in 1956 and raised and educated in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Iran, Egypt, India, and the United Kingdom, where he received his Ph.D. in social anthropology from Oxford. Acclaimed for fiction, travel writing, and journalism, his books include The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In an Antique Land, and Dancing in Cambodia. His previous novel, The Glass Palace, was an international bestseller that sold more than a half-million copies in Britain. Recently published there, The Hungry Tide has been sold for translation in twelve foreign countries and is also a bestseller abroad. Ghosh has won France's Prix Medici Etranger, India's prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the Pushcart Prize. He now divides his time between Harvard University, where he is a visiting professor, and his homes in India and Brooklyn, New York.

Customer Reviews

The plot ultimately turned out to be quite meaningless and the end came too abruptly.
An Avid reader born and raised in Calcutta
Of course all the supernatural stuff that the autor added is utter non-sense, but this being fiction it does not bother me per se.
Amazon Customer
I'm not the type to go back and read entire novels again just to understand what the heck the point of the book was.
A. Smith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Saurabh Chatterjee on September 27, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is one of the most fascinating books that I have read. Although the plot is sometimes abstruse, the story is almost always taut. There is a constant feel of suspense and mystery that surrounds the characters. The concept itself, that personalities can be transferred and, in effect, immortality gained through the malaria parasite is nothing short of spellbinding. When I finished the book, the first word that came to my mind was: wierd. But as I glossed over what I had just read and the emotions I had experienced while reading it, I realised that it was nothing short of a gem of modern science fiction. The story is vast in it's scope. Ghosh simultaneously handles three points in time, but keeps the reader equally engrossed in all three. The characters are real (one in fact is based on an Indian film maker) and totally believable. Having lived in Calcutta all my life, I can tell you that the situations depicted are absolutely authentic and real. Nothing is wasted in the book. Every syllable, every event, however insignificant it may seem, will come back later. The ending is incredible, dealing you a sledgehammer blow in the last couple of lines. All in all, a must read for SF fans, and indeed for fans of good, albeit populist, literature.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A. Smith on April 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
I wanted to like this book, I really did. In the end I was left confused and frustrated. This had the makings of a classic, but ultimately it didn't coalesce in my feeble brain.

The book has its ups and downs, and ultimately sucks you in the last 100 pages, and cruelly leaves you staring face to face with a brick wall. A main character keeps on saying "Don't you see?" and "Can't you see it?" to another character. I felt like the author was patronizing me, because I could not make the connections. I went back and reread a bit, and it turns out that seemingly trivial information stated at the beginning of the book is key to understanding the end. I agree with other reviewers about the scene at the railway station...breathtaking. Rarely have I had such a vivid picture painted in my head while reading...but frustratingly, this act does not seem to tie in to the rest of the story at all...or does it? Maybe I'm just not smart enough to make the connections. I'm not the type to go back and read entire novels again just to understand what the heck the point of the book was. If you aren't either (and if you are any less than a genius), than you may want to skip this one.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 2, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Calcutta Chromosome was fun, and I don't at all regret buying the book. I enjoyed the twisty, wandering, plot and its labyrinthine internal connections. I enjoyed the scenery, both the futuristic New York and its wonderful evocation of Calcutta. I liked many of the characters and enjoyed their encounters and dilemmas. I enjoyed the bits of medical history. I enjoyed much of the language. I REALLY enjoyed reading a book where, for once, I did not have to wince at words misused or misspelled.
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.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Carol Mathis on March 9, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Amitav Ghosh is a bright man, a very bright man. A bright man with a good imagination and a sure touch with plot development. On first reading I , like many of the other reviewers, said "Huh?" when I reached the end. Unlike many of the readers, I went back and read it again. And again, and again. And I realized that I just hadn't kept up with him the first time 'round. Like the reader from Calcutta mentioned, every word, every story, has a purpose. What seem like disparate threads come together in Ghosh's hands to form a sure knot. There are few "mysteries" that one can take pleasure in reading once the answer is known, but this is an exception, because each time I find one more clue when I reread the novel. Who is this Antar character, anyhow, and why does this information come to him--on this day, in this way? The entire novel pivots on this question, but it is one the reader never asks.
This is a novel worth reading twice.
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