The Calcutta Chromosome- Amitav Ghosh

A novel of fevers,delirium and discovery.

Author : Amitav Ghosh

Best sellers: The hungry tide, A sea of poppies, Glass Palace.

Beginning at an unspecified time in the future and ranging back to the late nineteenth century, the readers follows the adventures of the enigmatic L. Murugan. An authority on the Nobel Prize- winning scientist Sir Ronald Ross, who solved the malaria puzzle in Calcutta in 1898, Murugan is in search of the elusive "Calcutta Chromosome."

"With this woman we are talking about a whole lot more than just talent; we may be talking genius here. You also have to remember that she wasn't hampered by the sort of stuff that might slow down someone who was conventionally trained: she wasn't carrying a shitload of theory in her head, she didn't need to read a zoological study to see that there was difference between Culex and Anopheles: she's have seen it like you or I can see the difference between a dachshund and a doberman. She didn't care about formal classifications. In fact she didn't even really care about malaria. That's probably why she got behind Ronnie Ross and started pushing him towards the finish-line. She was working towards something altogether different, and she'd begun to believe that the only way she was going to make her final breakthrough was by getting Ronnie Ross to make his. She had bigger things in mind than the malaria bug."
"Like what?" said Urmila.
" The Calcutta Chromosome."

Maithili Speaks:
Let me tell you why I picked up this book. I have read "The Hungry Tide" and it has some astonishing facts and woven into a fiction beyond imagination. I expected similar things from "The Calcutta Chromosome.". Okay I was not exactly expecting a ROBIN COOK but what I did find was not worth all the hype.
The story starts somewhere indefinitely in future and has a Machine called AVA which does all kinds of strange things and I m still not able to visualise how it looks.. It has got a man called Antar who looks from home. Ava is supposed to belong to a water company and yet I don't get what it is doing rounding up all things it lays its hands on.
The story then shifts to Murugan, Indian scientist obsessed with following the story of discovery of malarial lifecycle. 
Then there is whole theory of how malaria fever was purposely experimented to cure Syphilis.
Another tale talks of how someone already knew all about Malaria and simply acted as an anonymous lead to Ronald Ross to make the breakthrough.
Somewhere in this tale of scientists is intermingled the involvement of a Hindu spiritual group and a mysterious character called Lutchman or Laakhan.
Two reporters Urmiila and Sonali are placed in betweeen to act as string pullers. To be frank the entire tale lost me.. I was outright confused and didn't get the ending at one read.. 
The build up was excellent but the story didn't live up to the anticipation it built. 

Rating: 2.9 on 5 only for the excellent following up on Scientists and building a good mystery. Never mind the outcome..
Price : Rs 299/-


  1. I have read the Glass Palace. Though its a good read, it didnt capture me as other books do. i might give this one a pass. Anyway, not into medical thriller unless its written by Kathy Reichs :)

  2. Haven't read Amitav - but heard that his "Smoke on River" or something like good. Your review is very crisp, I mean I actually will pick this book up only if I have a lot of time... :D :D

  3. Ohmygod. That's too few stars. I absolutely adore this book. It's definitely a favourite.


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