The Calcutta Chromosome

So, my reading habit has taken a back seat for the last few months. But that did not stop me from buying books and storing them for later. With a little help from Abinaya and other fellow bookworms, I was able to read about a book every month in college. Considering they were mostly James Patterson books on the David Cross series, it was quite a handful. I will review that series a little later once I get the chronology right considering I’m reading the books in some random order.

Then again, after my first tryst with Amitav Ghosh in Sea of Poppies, I couldn’t resist buying some other book of his I saw in Odyssey the other day – The Calcutta Chromosome. The book belongs to the sci-fi genre and it won the Arthur C. Clarke award – something I didn’t quite understand why it deserved until the very end.


The Calcutta Chromosome is, in all ways, different from the books I’ve read in the genre. Considering I’m an avid fan of Arthur Clarke and Isaac Asimov, I should say I’m not kidding about that.

The story starts with an Egyptian dude at some point in the future and consists of flashbacks either in the form of letters or documents recovered by his all-knowing machine – Ava. In this sense, it reminded me of The Fourth Estate by Jeffrey Archer where every chapter would start like a news article. This wasn’t exactly the same but it gets the job done.

In gist, the story follows the Egyptian dude – Antar, as he traces the steps of L. Murugan, his former, presently missing colleague who in turn in tracing the steps of Ronald Ross, the man who discovered the means by which malaria is transmitted.

If you ask me, the novel can also be partially categorised in the Fantasy genre. But that’s beside the point.

I found the novel pretty interesting actually. I could never have guessed most of the twists the story takes and I’m a guy who can predict Agatha Christie novels through sheer statistics – the least likely is the most obvious. But this novel had some very interesting twists. Since I hate giving spoilers, I will not delve any further into the story.

The novel is really small .. as in only 276 pages in the version I bought. It is a definite page turner, unlike Sea of Poppies which took me ages to finish for all it was worth.

Any more description and I would be giving away plotlines and spoilers.

Consensus: VERY different sci-fi thriller. Read it if you love the genre. Romantics will love this. Logically inclined people will find this a big bore and worth bitching about a lot. Personally, I loved it 🙂


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