Nakul Krishna

Carnivorous New Flowers

The Book of Chocolate Saints

By

Faber & Faber 496pp £17.99 order from our bookshop

One starts reading Jeet Thayil’s The Book of Chocolate Saints expecting a dark but still essentially comic roman à clef covering sixty or so years of Indian literary and artistic history. There seem to be helpful hints for readers in the know to match character with model (or, more often, models). But the central figure, Newton Francis Xavier, is a more complex case: not simply a thinly disguised alloy of the writer Dom Moraes and the artist Francis Newton Souza, though he seems to have done many of the things they did. It is made clear – not least by the appearance of Moraes and Souza themselves in the novel – that this is not just biography by other means.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'It would be nice to think that women will achieve equal pay in my lifetime, rather than to watch gloomily as stati… ,
    • In 1660, two of the signatories of King Charles I's death warrant fled across the Atlantic to New England. But were… ,
    • Howard Jacobson's sixteenth novel is 'a love story of sorts, one characterised not by physical desire or even conta… ,
    • 'The sudden immersion in the new and unfamiliar can lead people to write with a rare lack of self-consciousness' P… ,
    • 'Pools bend the rules. Clothes slip off, skin glistens, consciousness heightens. A dreamlike scenario unfolds' Jam… ,
    • 'Although he surely didn’t know W H Auden’s theory that every high C proclaims human freedom and our capacity to tr… ,
    • RT : With beginning tomorrow, we've uncovered a 1997 article from the archive reviewing 'Golf Dream… ,