Literary agents will tell you that the only way to get a collection of short stories published is to do a deal off the back of a novel. Faber has solved the conundrum for Vikram Chandra by offering two books in one. Sacred Games is not only a novel, it’s a selection of short stories interposed between the chapters of a novel.
Chandra doesn’t strain himself or the reader by making any tenuous connections between the stories and the novel. This intercalation (he calls them ‘Insets’) is obviously a new literary form.
The whole edifice, at over 900 pages, is, however, far from ‘literary’. Unlike many contemporary Indian efforts, in fact most of the post-Rushdie stuff that strains to imitate Günter Grass, James Joyce or Anaïs Nin, Chandra is refreshingly straightforward. There is no vanity of expression. He is telling us stories.