I am a big fan of Amitav Ghosh and if there is any reason for being so drawn to reading, maximum part of the credit goes to him. My first read from his books was 'The Glass Palace', I was so drenched in his writing that I wished the book could just never finish. I read it slowly, feeling and reeling every word written. Most of his work emphasizes on people and history. He has a magical way of bringing the history to you that you can vouch for seeing the whole trade firsthand.
The book 'The Calcutta Chromosome' is a variation from his work. It is an attempt in futuristic science, a mix of mystery, history and science. It has received mixed review on Goodreads, with both kinds, praises and criticism. And as I complete reading it today, I think I understand the arguments in both parties.
by Amitav Ghosh
From Victorian lndia to near-future New York, The Calcutta Chromosome takes readers on a wondrous journey through time as a computer programmer trapped in a mind-numbing job hits upon a curious item that will forever change his life. When Antar discovers the battered I.D. card of a long-lost acquaintance, he is suddenly drawn into a spellbinding adventure across centuries and around the globe, into the strange life of L. Murugan, a man obsessed with the medical history of malaria, and into a magnificently complex world where conspiracy hangs in the air like mosquitoes on a summer night.
The book draws you into the story right from the beginning. It educates you with the history (it is part fiction except for the multiple characters, rather scientist and the dates) of Malaria and it's cure. The story is such that it demands that the author has to take us through the future and the past, urging us to pick the clues and to understand the mystery. With moving back and forth in time and multiple characters with their own stories, the plot thus gets complicated and at times you find yourself scratching your head. But by the end of the story you put one and one together and the mystery is solved, except that some (who are in the critics side) are not satisfied. The issue is that the ending seems a bit far fetched. My argument here is that, since it is a science fiction, why do we need an ending that is meaningful to our current intelligence. Let it go beyond our understanding.
The book frequently brings forward philosophical ideas of Silence and Experimentation. Though we believe that we understand the the idea of experimentation and experimenter presented in the book, I am sure there is more to understand the real meaning behind the metaphor and the direct expression. The author has rather kept it open for the reader to interpret it. Overall I think The Calcutta Chromosome is more than just a science fiction, and I am obliged to give 31/2 stars.