Published: February 2018
The Book of Chocolate Saints follows the unforgettable character Francis Newton Xavier and his journey towards salvation - or damnation - or perhaps both. In the swooning, hypnotic prose for which his Man Booker Prize-shortlisted novel was acclaimed, Jeet Thayil paints a hallucinatory portrait of an ambiguous soul: a self-destructive figure living a wild existence of excess in pursuit of his uncompromising aesthetic vision, and a charismatic contrarian battling with his conflicting instincts.
His paintings and poems embodying the decadent jeu d'esprit of his heroes like Baudelaire forged his reputation, which is celebrated at a show in Delhi. Approaching middle-age, Xavier leaves Manhattan following 9/11, and his journey home to India becomes a voyage into his past. From his formative years with an infamous school of Bombay poets - documented by his biographer, Diswas - to an uncertain future, Xavier's story shows how the artist's life itself can become the final monument.
The Book of Chocolate Saints explores our deepest urges in a novel that is sexy, dangerous, and entirely uncompromising. It is intoxicating, blazingly intelligent literary fiction - a strange, beautiful hymn to the artistic life lived fearlessly - that consolidates Thayil's reputation as one of the most exciting writers of his generation.
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