At some point in the novel the various narratives which form part of ‘Red Earth and Pouring Rain’ coalescence into a single story which has multiples essences but which centres on the theme of dislocation; the dislocation of Sanjay and Sikander as they are sundered from their families and martial cultures due to the expansion of colonial England, the dislocation of Abhay as he circumnavigates his way through late 20th century America and the vagaries of an India which seems increasingly surreal to him and the dislocation of a monkey, who is the reincarnation of a sagacious revolutionary, whose fight against the British took him from the printing press, to fratricide to a battle with the Jack the Ripper in the guise of an immortal and malevolent doctor.

Throughout Chandra’s prose is imbued with a kind of baleful beauty, as the novel perpetually teeters on the brink of violence under the eyes of its simian Scheherazade as he explores the conquest of the British from its early days, to the mutiny of 1847 to its height in late Victorian England as England grew fat on the riches it stole from its colonies. Amidst all this there exist beautiful princesses and legendary warriors,  familial betrayals and all of the other things which you would form part of great myths, yet Chandra subtly upends many of these myths; the great Rajput warrior Sikander ends up serving the very people he vowed to fight and the bookish intellectual Sanjay ends up sowing the seeds of revolution; the princesses, whilst being beautiful, are far from helpless and end up bewitching the mighty warriors who sought to ensure them and who end up being consumed with a sense of emptiness and ennui.

It is difficult to sum up a novel as varies as Chandra’s, a novel which has multiple different narrations, some of which are never picked up again and some of which lead nowhere, but there is something unmistakably brilliant about the novel as a whole, as Chandra explores over 200 years of Indian history and the sense of wonder and awe it creates in others.