by Jeet Thayil - £8.99 Faber & Faber (2019)
paperback ISBN 13: 9780571336111 | ISBN 10: 0571336116
LONGLISTED FOR THE DSC PRIZE FOR SOUTH ASIAN LITERATURE 2018
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.
(Price & availability last checked: February 2019)