Author(s): Jeet Thayil
LONGLISTED FOR THE DSC PRIZE FOR SOUTH ASIAN LITERATURE 2018
'Easily the most original and formally inventive novel to come out of India in years.' Salman Rushdie, Guardian
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.