Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Art Imitating Life Imitating Art

I been reading the novel Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra, because it's a mix of several of my favorite things: a doorstop of a book; a novel of modern India; a crime thriller; and a cinematic, fast-moving, plot-driven epic.

So it came as a surprise to find that one of the book's characters was just gunned down by police in New Delhi.

Bunty, it turns out, was a real-life criminal of some stature in India. In the novel, a character named Bunty is second-in-command to the head crime boss, Ganesh Gaitonde. In the author's notes at the end of the book, Chandra coyly thanks those people who made the book more realistic but whom he'd prefer not to name. Hmmm.

I'm sure there's tons of subtext here that I'm not picking up on: perhaps every reader with a connection to India knows who Bunty is (was) and using his name in the novel is an in-joke that elicits knowing chuckles from the better-informed.

But seeing news of the death of a novel's character in the actual news was jarring to me. It was like hearing that scientists have captured the creature from the black lagoon or something. I hope Chandra will write about it on his site.

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