River Of Gods by Ian McDonald
In 2047, a gangster dumps a body into the sacred Ganges river. This sends ripples through the lives of many in the seething hotbed of technology and unrest that is India 100 years after independence. Gradually a conspiracy unfolds, rooted within the intricate plotting of a vastly powerful Artificial Intelligence (AI).
The viewpoints include the insecure and hyper-macho gangster; a self-righteous “Krishna cop” who executes renegade AIs; the cop’s lonely lower-caste wife; an over-sexed comedian who must take over the family corporation; a dedicated Muslim cabinet member with a dark sexual secret; a thrill-seeking journalist; a set designer who is a “nute” or an androgyne; a washed-up American scientist who is an expert on artificial intelligence; a mysterious girl who might be a mystic or something even weirder; and an American woman scientist on a secret mission.
The setting is a rich blend of traditional and futuristic India: there are floods of Hindu words (many of which, unfortunately, didn’t make it into the glossary). Unputdownable.