- The plot of this gangster epic about a Delhi crime family, however, has a familiar ring that often catches the attention and awe of Western readers.
The New York Times review which blows hot and cold shower on the thriller set in New Delhi’s underworld says, “All hail the new Puzo!” Comparison to Mario Puzo, the author of “The Godfather,” even in a sarcastic way can be a superlative compliment. And it is no mean feat that Deepti Kapoor’s novel ‘Age of Vice’ has been picked up for FX Series.
“Equal parts crime thriller and family saga, transporting readers from the dusty villages of Uttar Pradesh to the urban energy of New Delhi, Age of Vice is an intoxicating novel of gangsters and lovers, false friendships, forbidden romance, and the consequences of corruption,” is how publisher Penguin Random House describes the book.
The crime thriller which, according to critics, oscillates between literary work and a cinematic pulp, has been chosen for January’s book-club selection by “Good Morning America.” But all of them seem to agree that it is tediously long, with over 500 pages. It is an inauspicious estimate considering that it is a trilogy in the making.
And it is anything but subtle, says Times’ Dwight Garner. “She does not offer, except rarely, the pleasures of subtlety,” he says about the 42-year-old journalist-turned-author, adding, “Its length really hurts it. What might have been a crisp and moody entertainment, in Graham Greene’s elevated sense of that word, distends.”
Striking a contrary note, Ron Charles of The Washington Post says, I was torn between gorging on Age of Vice or rationing out the chapters to make them last. Finally free from the book’s grip, now all I want to do is get others hooked.”
Echoing the sentiment, the Chicago Review of Books says, “A complex mandala of a novel, Age of Vice contains stories within stories…Kapoor’s writing is muscular, pithy and highly visual, and the sort fans have come to expect from crime heavyweights like Vikram Chandra and Suketu Mehta, but her sensibility— watchful, probing, contemplative—remains uniquely her own.”
The plot of this gangster epic about a Delhi crime family, however, has a familiar ring that often catches the attention and awe of Western readers — wading through slums and slum dogs, from scavenging to screenplay-ready success.
“Kapoor has a cinematic eye, says Garner, what with “motorcycle rides on roads that cut through paddy fields, seen as if from a drone; pensive drags on cigarettes; looming goons; flights on private jets … gangs of nearly naked men covered in grease who emerge from the roadside, as if from a Cormac McCarthy fever dream, to wreak havoc.”
Lorraine Berry of the Los Angeles Times is more charitable, sort of. She says, “Kapoor’s novel is also a sprawling, ambitious work of social realism, in which the culture and conditions of modern Delhi contextualize the rise of the Wadia family crime syndicate. It’s a riveting spectacle, but the balance between Kapoor’s two imperatives — gangster epic and social novel — feels off-kilter.”