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March 06 , 2009

Geek Sublime

Writing Fiction, Coding Software


A great novelist on his twin obsessions: writing and coding. What is the relationship between the two? Is there such a thing as the sublime in code? Can we ascribe beauty to the craft of coding?

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An enormously satisfying, exciting and enriching book, Vikram Chandra's novel draws the reader deep into the lives of detective Sartaj Singh and Ganesh Gaitonde, the most wanted gangster in India.Sartaj, the only Sikh inspector in the whole of Mumbai, is used to being identified by his turban, beard and the sharp cut of his trousers. But 'the…

Vikram Chandra is the award-winning author of two acclaimed novels and a collection of short stories - and has been a computer programmer for almost as long as he has been a writer. In his extraordinary new book he looks at the connection between these two worlds of art and technology. Coders are obsessed with elegance and style, just as writers are, but do the words mean the same thing to both? And is it a coincidence that Chandra is drawn to two seemingly opposing ways of thinking?

Exploring these questions, Chandra creates an idiosyncratic history of coding - exploring such varied topics as logic gates and literary modernism, the male machismo of geeks, the striking presence of an 'Indian Mafia' in Silicon Valley, and the writings of Abhinavagupta, the 10th - 11th century Kashmiri thinker. Part technology story and part memoir, Geek Sublime is a book of sweeping ideas. It is a heady and utterly original work.

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