It all starts with Fluffy’s violent death. The book is a tour de force, not just because of its length (960 pages). The characters are special and I was as fascinated by Sartaj Singh, the hard-working, likeable, but corrupt policeman as I was by Ganesh Gaitonde, the flawed and violent villain. Their personal stories are very complex and deeply linked to the city of Mumbai, its social strata and the layers of power. Knowing the ‚right‘ people can be crucial for police and thieves alike. I read the book in English – well – and Hindi. The author kindly provides a dictionary on his website, which is extremely helpful, even if you just want to doublecheck that your knowledge of Hindi swearwords is 100% up to scratch. One linguistic aspect really surprised me – I thought only Germans used the word ‚Handy‘ for mobile phone, but it is mentioned at least twice here.
I understood Ganesh Gaitonde best through his relationship with Jojo Mascarenas, a woman who runs a very lucrative „business“. And this relationship made me like him in a way and then fiercely dislike him in the end. As for Sartaj Singh: His corrupt dealings and his occasional violence seem natural in the environment he operates in, yet his conscience frequently makes itself heard, particularly when he reminisces about his dead father, who was also a policeman. It almost feels as if his actions are under constant scrutiny by a higher authority that doesn’t approve of unlawful actions.
Then there’s the guru – and the secret service, particularly Anjali – and the Pakistani intelligence officer that takes up knitting as a hobby to calm his nerves – and Mary, Jojo’s sister. They all have their own fascinating story and all these threads are woven into the complex fabric of Sacred Games. Give it to your friends for Christmas – or treat yourself. But be warned: It’s addictive! I didn’t want it to end and it still lingers in my thoughts.
Das Buch gibt es übrigens auch in der deutschen Übersetzung von Barbara Heller & Kathrin Razum.