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The novel, Sea of Poppies, is first book of the trilogy Ibis and has been written by the Indian author, Amitav Ghosh. The novel deals with life in Calcutta and on the banks of river Ganga preceding the Opium Wars. This novel earned a Man Booker Prize nomination for the author.
Summary Of The Book
The book Sea of Poppies is set in the 1830s earlier to the Opium wars and involves the lives of Deeti who is a common villager, Zachary Reid who is an American sailor, an opium trader Benjamin Bumham, Paulette who is a French orphan, and a zamindar named Neel Rattan Halder.
Amitav Ghosh commences the narrative with Deeti, who is a typical caring housewife and mother who is married to a cripple, Hukam Singh. She soon realizes that she had been drugged with opium on her wedding night so that her husband’s brother could consummate the marriage instead of her infertile husband. When her husband dies, Deeti entrusts her daughter to the care of some relatives and decides to perform the ritual of Sati. But she is saved from it by Kalua, and the pair runs away together. The story then proceeds to look into the lives of Zachary Reid, Neel Rattan Halder, and Benjamin Bumham. All the main characters of the story have an association with opium, and their stories merge when they meet on the ship Ibis.
The author compares the main protagonists of his book to poppy seeds originating in immense numbers, which almost appear like a sea. Ghosh feels that like the poppy seeds, all the characters are unsure of their destiny. Another prominent comparison in the book is between river Ganga with river Nile. Ghosh feels that both the unselfish, ever-providing rivers are responsible for the growth and progress of the civilizations on their banks. He puts forth his philosophy in an enrapturing way in Sea of Poppies, attempting to make it a thought-provoking read.
About Amitav Ghosh
Amitav Ghosh is a renowned Bengali Indian author known best for his books written in English.
As an author, Amitav Ghosh made his debut in 1986 with the novel The Circle of Reason. He has since then written many a fiction and non-fiction. Besides the very popular Sea of Poppies, The Hungry Tide, The Shadow Lines, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, River of Smoke, and In an Antique Land are some of his well-known novels.
Born in July 1956, Ghosh was educated at first-rate schools in India. Later, he obtained a D.Phil from St. Edmund Hall in social anthropology. Subsequently, he became a professor and has taught at Queens College, City University of New York, and Harvard. For his contributions, the author was awarded the Padma Shri award by the Indian government in 2007. He has also won the Sahitya Akademi award, the Dan David Prize, and the Arthur C. Clarke award, besides being a nominee of the Man Booker Prize in 2008. At present, the author lives in New York along with his wife Deborah Baker, and they have two children.
|Authored By||Amitav Ghosh|
|Number of Pages||528 Pages|
|Territorial Rights||Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal|
I am a fan of Indian writing in English and have read most of the commercially successful work publsihed in the last ten/fifteen years. There are some very good writers in this trade namely Rushdie, Vikram Seth, etc. but in my view Amitav Ghosh is the master of this fast growing community. Those who have meandered with him on the Irawaddy in the Hungry Tide or traveled from the forests of Burma to the western ghats of India in the Glass Palace will often share the view that his writings have a certain unputdownable quality in them. But the manner in which a he has told the story in his latest historical and literary fictional work the %u201CSea of Poppies%u201D has taken his craft to a new level altogether. Very rarely does it happen to me that I do not want a novel to end due to the void that finishing it will cause. All through the reading I was mildly concerned that once I finish the book I will miss the characters and the story. That was the extent to which the writing made me engage with the story, the characters and the settings. Almost as if it was part of me. The statement %u201CGetting lost in the story%u201D characterized what I went through, I think.
However, Sea of Poppies is not just about the story, the age in which the book has been set and the granularity with which the historical aspects of that time have been crafted have an equal if not greater role in making it a compelling read.
You can read my complete review of this book at my blog ; http://aditiprincess.blogspot.com/2008/10/sea-of-poppies-by-amitav-ghosh.html
As I go through this wonderful book which is fiction based on a platform of realities of the East India Company and British Rule in India, I cannot but feel proud firstly to be an Indian, and to be a descendant of this multitude of human population which has lived through the tough times of the last few centuries.
Here Amitav is talking of our ancestors who struggled through darkness and backwardness emerging as victors, and for which I feel truly indebted.
Thanks Amitav, you have made me live through their travails and hardships. You have written a trully wonderful book.
With my general background knowledge of the Opium Wars, I can vouch that what ever Mr Amitav has written is based on facts and truth.
Amitav Ghosh has done a huge amount of research into the background of life 200 years ago in India. This is a truly engrossing historical novel that starts out in India of the 1830s, against the background of the opium trade between the East India Co. and China.The first part of a trilogy, the novel tells the story of how a variety of people come to find themselves on a ship, the IBIS, and of the events on board just as it is starting out on its voyage.But is more than that.Ghosh brings the India of the 1830s alive with vivid descriptions of Calcutta as it was called then, the lives of those who lives there, whether poor boatmen, rich landlords, peaeant farmers and their wives or ruthless British businessmen. Food, religion, tradition, racism and castes and their impact on lives are a central part of the book. Of particular interest is the lascars who man the ship and the language they use which is essentail in giving the book a sense of authenticity.
To me, Sea of Poppies is the best work of fiction that Amitav Ghosh has ever produced, and that's saying something!
The descriptions of people and places sucks one in and refuses to let go. The imagery that Ghosh paints is breathtaking, and in spite of rich detail, a well defined plot keeps one gripped almost as effectively as a thriller does.
A single negative: as the first part of a trilogy, the story ends rather abruptly (how I hate thee JK Rowling, for making book series fashionable, how I loathe waiting). It made me preorder A River of Smoke, the only book besides the Harry Potter series that I have pre ordered. Be warned though: some may find the sequels disappointing compared to the masterpiece that this installment is.
Can't wait to get my hands on the final part of the trilogy!
I am an ardent fan of Amitav Ghosh.In the present scenario of Indian English Literature which is scattered with juvenile writings in an english language which can,t be termed 'Pedestrian'as its even more appalling, Ghosh along with a few others are truly messiah and their works are treasures to us- the reader.Amitav Ghosh has the innate capacity to transport the reader to a magical land..sometimes bleak,sometimes beautiful and often surreal.Sea of Poppies is no exception but rather an epitome of perfection.
The story is engrossing,detailed and addictive.The amount of research which has undergone to bring into life the 19th century India is enthralling as it takes the reader into the magical voyage of Ibis on the Indian Ocean.The charecters- be it Deeti the docile yet fiery Opium farmer ,Mr Zachary-the ships first mate or Neel-the fallen zamidar of bengal evokes sympathy,rage and and hope. Often the reader begins to envision them as it is written in their in the own dialect further attesting to the detailing and research this masterpiece required.The plot is realistic giving us a glimpse of India which a kaleidoscope of culture,people with their numerous religion and travelers who are assimilated to become an unique entity called India.From the' Babu Culture 'of Bengal to the Opium farming of rural India, to the transition of British traders to Rulers of the country, to the french botanist and her quest for her identity ,each subplot is all encompassing .Finally Mareech or Mauritius which evokes hope and dread in the minds of the passengers of the ship as well as the reader who essentially becomes one of their own in course of reading this book.The rustic Bhojpuri to polished bengali to the lascar lingo..each chapter is a treat for the readers.
This is an apt beginning of the ambitious trilogy and I am looking forward to the journey.
The first book in the Ibis trilogy. What a book! I finished reading this novel in two weeks and was left wanting for more. One...Read More
Amitav Ghosh has been one of my most favorite writers among those writing historical fiction/fiction. I have read most of his b...Read More
Plot:The story follows different characters and at some point they come together in the same boat(literally).The story is based...Read More
In this first part of The Ibis Trilogy, Amitav Ghosh has painted a picture of India and its variety of people. These people var...Read More