Photo of Lucknow by Saad.Akhtar used under a Creative Commons license.
Vikram Chandra, Red Earth & Pouring Rain (Faber and Faber, 2000).
Chandra’s first novel is told, mostly, by a nineteenth-century poet, Sanjay Parasher, reincarnated as a monkey, sitting at a typewriter, spinning a tale read by young girl to a gathering crowd. Oh, and a a few Gods are in attendance. There are other stories, and stories within stories, and possibly stories within those, but the central narrative is Sanjay’s, an epic of colonialism and India’s response. The action skips around from Calcutta to Lucknow (and Los Angeles to Houston), among other locales, but does not rest in any one of them long enough for me to recommend it specifically to that end.
Here is a short excerpt. The South Asian Journalists Association’s profile of Chandra is here. Shobha Hiatt reviewed the book for INDOlink, Christopher Rollason wrote about it in India Star, and BJ Sadtler reviewed it for YogaChicago. Clinton Bennett gives a religious studies perspective. Nyassaneala blogged about it. Sharanya Manivannan blogged about the poem from which Chandra took the title.