Forget the fireworks in New York, London and Dubai. The most dazzling explosions to herald 2023 come from Deepti Kapoor’s novel Age of Vice ... Swinging from the hovels to the palaces of contemporary India, this hypnotic story poses a horrible dilemma: For days, 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 ... This is a rare case of a book bounding as high as its hype ... Kapoor moves back and forth through time and up and down the social ladder. It’s a complicated but never confusing structure that unravels some mysteries while spinning new ones. Good as she is at ripping up the pages with acts of violence, she’s even more sly about pulling us into these characters’ lives ... Kapoor situates her story in the broiling nexus of India’s economic and political development ... Central to Kapoor’s success is her agile style. In long, winding backstories, her voice grows rich and evocative. But she is the master of broken sentences. Phrases sparking as fast as synapses ... Age of Vice is too well choreographed to be called sprawling. No, this is pure cunning.
A luxe thriller...that rides the line between commercial and literary fiction so adroitly that it will almost certainly move a lot of units, as I’ve heard publishers say about their best sellers ... It’s easy to see why attention has been paid. As a storyteller, Kapoor is a natural. Her novel offers the pleasures of narrative dexterity. It moves — early on, at any rate — as if on rails ... She does not offer, except rarely, the pleasures of subtlety. Over more than 500 pages, the book’s sleekness bends toward slickness and the magic toward tricks. Its length really hurts it. What might have been a crisp and moody entertainment, in Graham Greene’s elevated sense of that word, distends ... The characters (conflicted journalist, wealthy man’s dilettante son, wide-eyed boy from the sticks) are familiar. The politics are not delicate. A Mercedes rams into five poor people, including a pregnant woman, on the first page ... On Audible, the book might really lift the burden of a cross-country car trip. But it doesn’t make you a snob to want more from a novel than you would get from a good evening of Netflix. I kept reading, sometimes admiringly, but mentally I checked out around page 75 ... Kapoor has a cinematic eye. This novel has a lot of moments that feel lush and screenplay-ready ... She can be a perceptive writer, one who has plenty to say about modern Delhi and the conditions that spawned and that sustain the Wadia crime syndicate ... But as Age of Vice rolls on, the exigencies of plot trample whatever flowers, in the form of complexities, attempt to bloom.
An impressively ambitious literary thriller ... An epic story ... With intricate yet plausible plotting, the book has all the energy of a high-concept crime thriller. What makes it compelling is the emotional intelligence of Kapoor’s characterisations ... Now seems a good time to examine the underbelly of India’s capitalist system from the inside, and Kapoor clearly knows her subject well. The feel of authenticity she brings to this fictional world gives it real political and moral weight ... The real suspense is found in the power dynamics that motivate the brutality, putting its players in constant jeopardy. Kapoor writes with a spare, hard-boiled style, fuelling the pace of her narrative but allowing for starkly lyrical touches as well.
It’s a riveting spectacle, but the balance between Kapoor’s two imperatives — gangster epic and social novel — feels off-kilter ... The gangster part feels familiar enough (in fact, too much so) ... Yet Kapoor struggles to prick the conscience of the reader, in part because Ajay is an observer who offers little insight ... This author’s facility with glitz, action and flash tips the scales in the wrong direction.
The ambitious first installment in a trilogy that weaves the sweeping pathos and entangled fealties of a mafia family saga with performative violence and operatic debauchery, set in a landscape that evokes the stark, earthy cinematic style of recent crime drama hits ... Kapoor manages to widen the novel’s scope from being just an entertaining thriller to a work with something important to say about modern India ... Age of Vice contains stories within stories. It takes a certain dauntlessness, a certain off-hand disdain for approbation to attempt to impose a narrative structure on such an anarchic, trenchantly bizarre and unwieldy universe ... In mirroring the anatomy of Delhi and the messy, complicated lives of its inhabitants, the novel strives, above all else, to break conventions of form. So, it is not too surprising that it frays towards the end; the last hundred or so pages seem to escape authorial control and unravel in puzzling directions. One hopes that this ambiguity is intentional and that future installments of the trilogy will gather these stray narrative strands and knit them back together in a way that holds. It’s worth staying with these dazzling characters, and this incredible, wild story, to find out.
Riveting ... The story bounces back and forth between the three main characters’ narratives and across five consequential years that will alter all of their futures irrevocably. Along the way, Kapoor paints a mesmerizing picture of violence and decadence, of struggle and hope, of corruption and redemption. At 500-plus pages, you may find Age of Vice difficult to pick up, but it’s also impossible to put down.
Searing ... Finely wrought characters ... Kapoor’s violent and bitter story is deeply addictive; this spellbinder would be easy to devour in one big gulp, but it’s worth savoring for Neda’s uncompromising take on what she terms India’s 'losing age, the age of vice.' The author possesses a talent great enough to match the massive scope of her subject.
Fast-paced ... Kapoor switches points of view and timelines throughout the book to great effect; it doesn’t take long for the reader to become invested in the Mario Puzo–esque drama of the Wadia family and their associates. Her dialogue shines, and although the novel is a bit too long, it’s certainly gripping. Fans of crime novels will find much to admire in this quite entertaining book ... A bit too long-winded but a whole lot of fun.