As a pupil of each movie and writing, he hop-scotched throughout America, from Ohio to Los Angeles to New York to Houston, earlier than touchdown in Berkeley. (He at the moment splits his time between Bombay and California.) Alongside the best way he managed to get graduate writing levels at each John Hopkins College and the College of Houston whereas learning with two of the giants of postmodern literature, John Barth and Donald Barthelme, each of whom excelled in taking aside conventional narrative constructions, mixing up the items, and rebuilding them in weird new kinds.
Chandra’s first novel, Crimson Earth and Pouring Rain, from 1995, is concurrently a riff on the Ramayana, a retelling of the British conquest of India, and a narrative a couple of younger Indian man at college within the US within the twentieth century. It garnered rave critiques and the Commonwealth Writers Award for Greatest First E-book. Chandra parlayed his out-of-the-gate success and the equally heat reception to his 1997 assortment of quick tales, Love and Longing in Bombay, right into a day-job profession as a inventive writing professor, first at George Washington College after which at UC Berkeley. With that institutional safety in hand, he was capable of deal with the 10-year problem of ending Sacred Video games.
However all of the whereas he by no means strayed removed from the world of code. Chandra fell underneath the pc’s spell whereas learning movie at Columbia College within the late Eighties, when he took a job at a agency that offered secretarial providers for medical insurance coverage corporations. His job was to transform handwritten notes from medical doctors’ examinations right into a kind appropriate for authorized wrangling. Three months into the job, the corporate offered its staff with private computer systems.
There’s a explicit form of thoughts that responds to the miracle of code—the godlike energy of compelling the execution of a selected activity by accurately compiling a sequence of symbols collectively. Chandra dove in: “Right here,” he wrote in Geek Chic, “was a whole world, methods and guidelines I might uncover and management … there have been mysteries, issues I didn’t perceive, however there have been at all times solutions. If I attempted exhausting, there was at all times a logic to find, an inside order and consistency that was stunning.”
By the point Chandra reached Houston and set to work on his first novel, he was computer-proficient sufficient to make what he calls a “first rate graduate college residing—sufficient to afford common journeys again to India,” by offering common programming and laptop consulting providers. (To this present day, Chandra considers himself “a working-class programmer.”)
When he began writing Sacred Video games within the late ’90s, his unique conception for the e-book was as a novella-sized gangster story sparked by his expertise of listening to computerized weapons hearth between rival mobs whereas residing in Bombay. However throughout the course of his background analysis—Chandra is an avid notetaker, researcher, reporter, and truth checker who chases down each obtainable rabbit gap with relentless ferocity (“I’ve a extremely obsessive nature,” he tells me, greater than as soon as)—he quickly realized that he couldn’t inform a narrative about Indian gangsters with out delving into police corruption and the complicity of politicians, in addition to the ethnic and spiritual squabbling that’s endemic to present-day India.
The story metastasized, rising to include the devastating partition of India into Muslim-majority Pakistan and Hindu-majority India in 1947 and together with sidetracks into Bollywood filmmaking, non secular transcendence, and intelligence company machinations—all served with heaping helpings of affection, betrayal, and homicide. Chandra is mild-mannered, soft-spoken, and cautiously considerate in particular person, however as an creator he writes intercourse scenes that steam and motion that kilos. When he lastly completed, Sacred Video games was an epic that clocked in at 947 pages, coated 60 years of recent Indian historical past, and featured greater than 100 characters. It commanded a reported seven-figure advance.
“Say you will have a personality born in 1978,” Chandra says, “and then you definately need that particular person to do one thing towards a historic incident in 1996, however then you definately suppose, ‘Oh, however wait, this different factor that he wants to participate in occurs in 2001. How do I make all of this match?’ If you happen to change one date someplace, then that has each a downstream impact and an upstream impact.”