The Calcutta Chromosome

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Eight characters chase each other through time and space without even knowing it.

THE CALCUTTA CHROMOSOME, Amitav Ghosh, Picador, 1995, 309 pp

Random encounters and coincidences are actually fragments of the same millennia-long story, brought together from time to time by one or another of the protagonists, leading us to uncover the mystery of the Calcutta Chromosome.

Amitav Ghosh’s spellbinding thriller helps us unlock the secrets of colonial and contemporary India, and is a captivating read for lovers of mystery and crime novels, as well as aficionados of scientific writing. The fascinating novel takes readers on a journey into a no longer far-off future, and is teeming with frequent plunges into a past inhabited by mysteries, incurable diseases, reincarnations and brilliant experiments.

The only constant is the urgency to decipher the Calcutta Chromosome, a transmissible chromosome unlike any other we know, which nestles into the brain of a select few and carries with it the eastern version of immortality: reincarnation, albeit only partial. With a playful style and entertaining anecdotes, Ghosh’s story also warns us of the more or less intentional consequences of the computer revolution we have been so overwhelmed by, helping us to understand the potential but also the limitations of a life overly dependent on material found on Internet.

The Calcutta Chromosome is a novel you’ll never want to put down, and has established Ghosh as one of the greatest writers of modern-day India.

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