Why I Read This
I loved The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh, and thus eagerly picked up this other novel by him. Unfortunately, it did not win me over in the same way. This book – part fantasy, part horror story, and part a tale of science-gone-bad – lacks the strong development of character and place that is so appealing in The Glass Palace. Instead, it is plot driven, and the plot can most succinctly be described as “weird.”
Believe It Or Not, This Is The Plot
The “Calcutta Chromosome” of the title concerns a chromosome that can be transmitted via malaria injected into syphilitics which is then transformed with a little help from decapitated pigeon heads into a gene conferring a bit of immortality to new recipients, who will reveal to you what they’re up to, but if they tell you they have to kill you. Black magic is also a part of the transference process, as you might expect….
I was very disappointed. The plot is annoyingly opaque and dare I say stupid, and the characters seem only to have been included to move it along. In the end, I felt the story lacked significance and gravitas. Ghosh is a good writer. Maybe he was bitten by one too many mosquitoes when he wrote this.
Published by William Morrow, 1997