Vikram Chandra (novelist)

Vikram Chandra (born 1961 in India) is an Indian-American writer. His first novel, Red Earth and Pouring Rain, won the 1996 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book.[1]

Vikram Chandra
Born1961 (age 58–59)
Alma materKenyon College
Pomona College (BA)
Columbia University School of the Arts
Johns Hopkins University (MA)
Notable worksSacred Games
Years active1993–present
SpouseMelanie Abrams

Early lifeEdit

Chandra was born in New Delhi in 1961. His father Navin Chandra was a business executive who is now retired. His mother Kamna Chandra has written several Hindi films and plays. Her most notable works include the films Prem Rog (1982), 1942: A Love Story (1994), Chandni, directed by Yash Chopra and Qarib Qarib Singlle (2017). His sister Tanuja Chandra is a filmmaker and screenwriter[2] who has also directed several films, including Sur and Sangharsh (1999). His other sister Anupama Chopra is a film critic and consulting editor for India's NDTV.

Chandra did his high school education at Mayo College in Ajmer, Rajasthan. He attended St. Xavier's College in Mumbai and, as an undergraduate student, transferred to Kenyon College in the United States.[3] Chandra felt isolated at Kenyon so he transferred to Pomona College, Claremont, California, where he graduated with a B.A. magna cum laude in English (concentration in Creative Writing). Chandra attended film school at Columbia University, leaving halfway through to begin work on his first novel. He received his M.A. from The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University in 1987. He has taught at George Washington University, and lectured at University of California, Berkeley.[4]


Red Earth and Pouring Rain (1995), Chandra's first novel, was inspired by the autobiography of James Skinner - the Irish Raja of Hansi in Haryana, a legendary nineteenth-century Anglo-Indian soldier. He wrote the novel over several years while enrolled in the writing programs at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Houston. It was published in 1995 by Penguin Books in India; by Faber and Faber in the UK; and by Little, Brown in the United States. Red Earth and Pouring Rain received outstanding critical acclaim. It won both the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book and the David Higham Prize for Fiction. The novel is named after a poem from the Kuruntokai, an anthology of Classical Tamil love poems.

Love and Longing in Bombay (1997), a collection of short stories, was published by the same houses as Red Earth and Pouring Rain. Love and Longing in Bombay won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book (Eurasia region) and was short-listed for the Guardian Fiction Prize. It was well received by international press and media.

In 2000, Chandra served as co-writer, with Suketu Mehta, for Mission Kashmir, a Bollywood movie. It was directed by his brother-in-law, the award-winning director Vidhu Vinod Chopra, and starred Hrithik Roshan.

Sacred Games (2006) is Chandra's most recent novel. Set in sprawling Mumbai, it features Sartaj Singh, a policeman who first appeared in Love and Longing in Bombay. Singh takes part in some police encounter killings. Over 900 pages long, Sacred Games was one of the year's most anticipated new novels. It had been the subject of a bidding war amongst the leading publishers in India, the UK, and the US.[5] It has also been adapted as a web television series by Netflix. A two-part Netflix Tie-in Edition of Sacred Games was also released in 2018.

Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty (2014) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award (Criticism).[6]


Chandra is married to the writer Melanie Abrams. They both teach creative writing at the University of California, Berkeley. Chandra currently divides his time between Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, and Oakland, California, United States.[7] He has two daughters, Leela and Darshana.[8]


  • Red earth and pouring rain: a novel. Hachette Digital, Inc. 1995. ISBN 978-0-316-13276-3.
  • Love and Longing in Bombay: Stories, Penguin Books, 1997, ISBN 978-0-14-026572-9
  • Sacred Games. Faber and Faber. 2006. ISBN 978-0-571-23118-8.; HarperCollins, 2007, ISBN 978-0-06-113036-6
  • Geek Sublime: Writing Fiction, Coding Software. Faber and Faber. 2013. ISBN 978-0-571-31029-6.
  • Sacred Games Netflix Tie-in Edition Part 1. Penguin. 2018. ISBN 978-0143445944
  • Sacred Games Netflix Tie-in Edition Part 2. Penguin. 2018. ISBN 978-0143445951


  1. ^ "Vikram Chandra", South Asian Journalists Association
  2. ^ "Tanuja Chandra's film is stuck". Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  3. ^ Thompson, Bob (22 January 2007). "Literary Ambition Without Borders" – via
  4. ^ [1], Press release, University of California, Berkeley
  5. ^ [2][permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "National Book Critics Circle Announces Finalists for Publishing Year 2014". National Book Critics Circle. 19 January 2015. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  7. ^ "UC Berkeley lecturer Vikram Chandra: From "weird little kid" in India to master storyteller — and winner of a publishing jackpot".
  8. ^ "A Literary Marriage - Oakland Magazine - July-August 2013 - Oakland, California".

External linksEdit