In the Columbia library, by chance, he happened upon the autobiography of James Skinner, a legendary nineteenth century Anglo-Indian soldier. This book was to become the inspiration for Vikram’s novel, Red Earth and Pouring Rain. He left film school halfway to begin work on the novel. This novel, was written over several years at the writing programs at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Houston. It was published in 1995 by Penguin Books in India; by Faber and Faber in the UK; and by Little, Brown in the United States. The book was received with outstanding critical acclaim. It won the 1996 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book and the David Higham Prize for Fiction.
A collection of short stories, Love and Longing in Bombay (1997), his second book, consists of five long stories narrated by a retired Bombay civil servant. It won the 1997 Commonwealth Writers Prize (Eurasia Region, Best Book). It was also short-listed for the Guardian Fiction Prize; and has been well received by international press and media. He also co-wrote an Indian Feature Film, Mission Kashmir, released in 2000. His most recent book is Sacred Games (2006), set in present day Mumbai.
Vikram Chandra's most recent novel Sacred Games, set amongst the cops and villains in a sprawling Mumbai, was published in 2006. It features the character Sartaj Singh, who first appeared in Chandra's 'Love and Longing in Bombay'. 900 pages long, 'Sacred Games' was one of the year's most anticipated new novels, and was the subject of a bidding war amongst the leading publishers in India, the UK and the US.
Vikram is married to writer Melanie Abrams. He currently divides his time between Mumbai and Oakland, California. He teaches Creative Writing at the University of California, Berkeley and works as a journalist and as an independent software engineer and consultant.