Author: Raja Rao
Publisher: Vision/Orient paperbacks
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8170944783
A most ambitious novel, and like most of Raja Rao's writing, rooted in Indian tradition, thought and sensibility. It offers the broadest, deepest internationalism in fiction and enables fiction to catch up with life.
At one level, The Chessmaster is the story of an impossible love between Sivarama Sastri, and Indian mathematician working in Paris, and a married woman which can only end in sorrow and despair. To come to terms with its impossibility, the protagonists turn inward in their search for answers and meaning, transforming the book into a metaphysical exploration. Amidst this search, each and every act, big or seemingly small, gets imbued with special meaning. Sastri's love for the French actress, Suzanne Chantereux, or her beguiling, effervescent compatriot Mireille, for instance, serves to underline the difference between the East and West; while the latter seeks happiness in the world, Sastri is looking for freedom from the world itself.
'The Chessmaster' is rich: in language, plot, in complexity, too, it is rich. And rich in local and in its large cast of memorable characters; Indian, European, African and Jewish. By turns tender, tragic, sensuous — or filled with laughter and delight — the book nevertheless remains utterly serious, concerned with the author's abstract search for the Absolute. Grand in sweep and range, and functioning at multiple levels, the story moves from France to London, and on to the Himalayas and Bengal and contains, perhaps for the first time ever in a literary work, a dialogue between a Brahmin and a Rabbi: an exploration of reasons for Holocaust and an attempt to expiate it.
The Turk and the Tiger Hunt
The Goblets of Shiraz
The Brahmin and the Rabbi
Translations and Glossary