‘This novel is a rich harvest; it moves with the strange and flawless certainty of a dream … It is superbly written, and its madness is also its strength.’ — Edna O’Brien
Francis Newton Xavier has lived a wild existence of excess in pursuit of his uncompromising aesthetic vision. His paintings and poems – which embody the flamboyant and decadent jeu d’esprit of his heroes like Baudelaire – have forged his reputation, which is to be celebrated at a new show in Delhi.
Approaching middle age in a body ravaged by hard-living, Xavier leaves Manhattan following the 9/11 attacks with his young girlfriend – and his journey home to India becomes a delirious voyage into the past. From his formative years with an infamous school offin de siècle Bombay poets – as documented by his biographer, Diswas, in these pages – Xavier must move forward into an uncertain future of salvation or damnation.
His story results in The Book of Chocolate Saints: an epic novel of contemporary Indian life that probes the mysterious margins where art bleeds into the occult, and celebrates the artist’s life itself as a final monument. It is Jeet Thayil’s spiritual, passionate, and demented masterpiece.