11 May, 2021

The Shabby-Genteel Apheem Chichis

Patches of anti-colonial cliche apart, the opium trade and the entire cast under its thrall breathe life into the 1830s. Ghosh's well-crafted narrative pace intoxicates.

Jitender Gupta
The Shabby-Genteel Apheem Chichis

Amitav Ghosh is a living embodiment of what has become one of his principal themes: the journeyings and displacements of the Indian diaspora. Born in Calcutta, he has studied in Delhi, Oxford and Cairo, taught in Harvard, and currently has three writing desks: one each in Bengal, Goa and Brooklyn. Along with V.S. Naipaul and Jhumpa Lahiri he is one of the three pre-eminent Indian writers who have taken exile, identity and migration as their subjects. Certainly these are themes which surface over and again in Ghosh’s varied and formidably ambitious body of work from the mid-1990s onwards.

The narrative of The Glass Palace (2000) revolved around the fortunes of Rajkumar, a Bengali serving boy exiled in Burma who rises to become a logging magnate; the book follows the fortunes of his family as Britain’s East Asian Empire crumbles before the Japanese onslaught in World War II. The Hungry Tide (2005) was a tale about the seas and swamps of the Sunderbans told through Piya Roy, an NRI brought up in the US who returns...

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