The book, set in s Calcutta and New York City at some unspecified time in the future, is a medical thriller that dramatizes the adventures of people who are brought together by a mysterious turn of events. The book is loosely based on the life and times of Sir Ronald Ross , the Nobel Prize —winning scientist who achieved a breakthrough in malaria research in Clarke Award in Ghosh employs a factual background for the invented events in the novel, drawing upon Ross' Memoirs which were published in The novel begins with the story of Antar, a resident of the future New York doing data processing for the International Water Council.
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The net was buzzing with mosquitoes; he could see them dancing like motes, in the finger of light that bisected his bed.
His whole body was aflame, covered with bites. He had been scratching himself furiously in his sleep; he could see blood on his fingernails, and on the sheets. In his native Calcutta, malaria is a malady as familiar as the common cold, albeit more sinister. Even today, this tropical invasion of red corpuscles claims 1 million to 2 million human lives every year.
In the pre-penicillin era, dementia paralytica was sometimes treated by artificially induced malarial fever, in hopes that it might reverse the late syphilitic meltdown of the brain and other tissues. If the practice seems primitive in the s, remember that it earned its creator, Julius Wagner von Jauregg, a Nobel Prize in Back to Ghosh.
His thriller opens in near-future Manhattan with Antar, a depressed Egyptian emigre relegated to spending his pre-retirement years as an at-home systems analyst for LifeWatch, a nonprofit consultancy to the International Water Council. Ronald Ross, the real-life pukka sahib of the Indian Medical Service who was awarded the Nobel Prize for decrypting the malaria life cycle in the Anopheles mosquito.
Antar, who lunched with Murugan just before the latter left New York to pursue further research on Ross, also knows that Murugan has been missing since Aug. Along the way they meet a baroque cast, from dhooley bearers, street urchins, spiritualists and journalists to Phulboni, an eminent bellettrist; Soldani Das, a retired film star; and Mrs. Aratounian, the elderly proprietress of the guest house where Murugan has his psychedelic malaria dream. Why partial? Mangala, it emerges, has been secretly treating advanced syphilitics with blood containing avian malaria obtained by slitting the throats of pigeons that flock on the hospital grounds.
In the process, she inadvertently perfects a genetic technique for transposing personality traits from one human being to another. Because her clandestine experiments yield a measure of immortality, Mangala is deified by cult followers. The novel brings to mind another failed genetic theorist who claimed the heritability of acquired biological traits, Trofim Lysenko His grievous error led to widespread Soviet famine and finally placed him in the highest ranks of 20th century scientific charlatans.
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The Calcutta Chromosome
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The portrayal of silence in Amitav Ghosh's The Calcutta Chromosome
The net was buzzing with mosquitoes; he could see them dancing like motes, in the finger of light that bisected his bed. His whole body was aflame, covered with bites. He had been scratching himself furiously in his sleep; he could see blood on his fingernails, and on the sheets. In his native Calcutta, malaria is a malady as familiar as the common cold, albeit more sinister.
Reviewed by Kritika Goyal. Set in an unspecified time in the future, this medical thriller takes the readers through a wondrous journey of time. The narrative is suffused with science, myth, nihilism, philosophy and superstition. The book is based on the life of the Nobel Prize winning scientist, Sir Ronald Ross, who did a breakthrough research on malaria in