It is time for too much information.

  • The only blogs I read with any regularity are The Superficial and Go Fug Yourself. (I will not post the links. I will not enable.)
  • I once spent a night watching a full seven hours of Law & Order re-runs. This occured not that long ago. I am probably watching one right now.
  • I have a deep, deep fascination with crime stories set in Asia.

My lower brow is not relegated to words and images. It used to be that every so often, I felt an absolute need for plastic nachos from the 7-11. I am happy to report that I no longer crave utter shit-for-food. I hope I never say the same about shit-for-lit, Asian crime stories. The descriptions of Asian customs; the weird food, italicized, which better writers allow the reader to dechipher from context. I can’t say I admire the generally white protagonists who  fall in love with hookers. (Delusional, imperialists bastards.) I hotly object to the portrayal of the female characters, especially the sweet ones forced, Miss Saigon-like, into a life of skank. Above all, I abhor the writing. Yet I suck it up, the way I did articles about the effects of Olestra products. (Who could resist the term “anal leakage?”)

I have twice read Bangkok 8. I would gladly sludge through the shlock that could be Singapore Simpers As She Stabs The Imperialist Loser Who Has To Pay For Sex. However, Vikram Chandra’s latest novel, Sacred Games, means I won’t have to.

Chandra’s first book, Red Earth and Pouring Rain, won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Published Book, as well as the David Higham Prize for Fiction. His  short story collection, evocatively titled Love and Longing in Bombay, also won the Commonwealth, this time for for Best Book.

One of the stories from Love and Longing gives us the character we follow through Sacred Games (which has won too many “Notable Books” from too may journals to post, here). It’s a Asian crime novel with compelling characters and gorgeous, floating prose. OK, so the female characters are beautiful. I’ll deal. Chandra has given me the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon of Chop Sockey Lit.  I’m sucking it up. All 900 pages of it.

(Who else gets to publish 900 pages? Maxine Hong Kingston. Once.)

Rock on, Vikram Chandra, you hunk. What’s your Avatar?

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