Love and Longing in Bombay by Vikram Chandra- A Review

Vikram Chandra/ Fiction Literary

My rating:★★★★★

[★-lost me ★★-average ★★★-worth a read ★★★★-excellent ★★★★★-amazing]


Welcome to the Fisherman’s Rest, a little bar off the Sasoon Dock in Bombay where Mr. Subramaniam spins his tales for a select audience. This is the setting for Vikram Chandra’s collection of seven short stories, Love and Longing in Bombay, and Subramaniam is Chandra’s Scheherezade. In these stories, Chandra has covered the gamut of genres: there is a ghost story, a love story, a murder mystery, and a crime story, each tale joined to the others by the voice of the elusive narrator. In “Shakti,” a discussion about real estate leads to the story of a soldier who must exorcise a ghostly child from his family home. In the final story, “Shanti,” a young woman’s despair about the state of the country becomes a springboard for a tale of love and hope.

Love and Longing in Bombay is a mesmerizing collection, filled with fully rounded characters and stories that resonate long after the book is back on the shelf. Chandra’s prose is luminous, his tales satisfying. Scheherezade would be impressed.

I picked up this book thinking it was Vikram Seth, of “A Doctor’s Journal Entry for August 6 1945” and “A Suitable Boy”. I do not regret picking up this book.

Love and Longing in Bombay contains five stories narrated by a Mr. Subramanium in a shady bar in Bombay overlooking the sea. Each of the five stories focuses on one aspect of Mumbai’s culturescape . Dharma,(“Not Karan Johar”)(“Your jokes should be banned”)which mean belief/religion tells of past ghosts getting resurrected, and the feeling of belonging(my personal favorite). Shakti, meaning power, speaks of feuding families uniting for the sake of their children. Kama,work, unveils corruption, deceit, and body-selling. Artha-meaning, makes us think about the meaning of life and love and finally, Shanti-peace, on how Subramanium found peace in his life by finding the love of his life.

The Independent on Sunday said:’When you finish it[this book], you miss it, as you miss a city, as Bombayites must miss their city even while living in it, on account of its unchanging traditional and daily frantic adaptations to the demands of the population, the industry, the west and the century.’ I love this book, even as I hate this city. Also, this book is based in that part of Bombay I love the most, the areas around the sea and South Bombay and my school; Jaslok Hospital and St Xaviers College and Kemps corner and Malabar Hill, even the road and building on the cover of this book are right next to my school. LLB is lyrically written, with a few poetic ironies here and there. Check this out:

Some people meet their ghosts, and some don’t. But we’re all haunted by them.

THIS IS LIT!(“You don’t even know what that word means”)(“Oh? It doesn’t mean liking something too much that you want to douse everything in kerosene and see it lit?“)

I would totally recommend this book to everyone I know.


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Much love.



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