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Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies (Review)

October 10, 2009


Amitav Ghosh’ s Sea of Poppies is incredible in its scope and depth—a book which also manages to have the feel of a good dramatic movie that keeps you captive in the “what will happen next?!” I was mostly under-whelmed by Ghosh’s Glass Palace which simply did not have the cohesion of story narrative that ‘Sea of Poppies” does.

At first I thought ‘Sea of Poppies’ would be the same. A lot of different characters from different backgrounds that come together at some point in the story which is set firmly in a specific historic space and time—mix in some generational poignancy.  Sea of Poppies has elements of this, but the main difference is that it does not veer of and leave characters behind.

The story itself has a more focused and clear narrative arc which (most importantly) grips you in the immediacy of what is happening on the page. My favorite hook of the novel was Neel Halder, the Raja of Raskhali, and his eventual demise. Sea of Poppies does not flinch from describing the shit, piss and grime that goes along with being imprisoned and shipped off into indentured servitude. The sadism combined with its own version of humanity.

There is no ship adventure movie centered on Indians, is there? One that is historically accurate and which intelligently grapples issues of caste, gender and race.  Sea of Poppies is a brilliant movie waiting to be made.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Arun permalink
    November 2, 2009 5:24 pm

    I havent read both the Ghosh books you’ve mentioned, but I loved The Hungry Tide and Calcutta Chromosome. In my opinion Ghosh is the best Indian Writer in English. So scholarly, liberal, etc.

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