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Dec 2, 2011

Amitav Ghosh

Born in Calcutta in 1956, Amitav Ghosh is a noted contemporary Indo-Anglian novelist who spent his early childhood in Dhaka and Colombo but obtained his higher education in London where he got the degree: M. Phil and Ph.D. He studied in Dehra Dun, New Delhi, Alexandria and Oxford and his first job was at the Indian Express newspaper in New Delhi. He earned a doctorate at Oxford before he wrote his first novel, which was published in 1986.

The Circle of Reason (1986)describes the predicament of Bengali Orphan, called Alu because his head is shaped like potato. His real name, however, is Nichiketa, who reminds us of the Nichiketa of Katha-Upanishad. The mythical Nichiketa boldly faces the Lord of Death but the modern Nichiketa is forced to run away from his village because he is falsely implicated in different cases and he is dubbed a terrorist.

The Shadow Line (1988) is about the growing up of a boy who lives in the shadow of a man whom he idealizes. This novel is a masterpiece in which Ghosh suggests that nationalism is the source of terrifying violence. Here he raises his voice against manmade walls. The novel is divided into two parts: “Going Away” And “Coming Home”. In an Antique Land (1992) is the story of Bomma, a low class Indian bought by a Jewish merchant as a slave in 1130 A.D. The narrative moves back and forth from India to Egypt. The Calcutta Chromosome (1996) comes under the category of science fiction which presents a mysterious ghost story. It is a mysterious ghost story. Ronald Ross’s famous merchant on the malarial parasite is the central point of the narrative. The novelist artistically declares that an uneducated Bengali woman intuitively knows the malaria problem.

The Glass Palace (2000) and A stately and vibrantly detailed family saga set in south-central Asia against the tumultuous backdrop of the 20th century. The Glass Palace is the story of Rajkumar, an Indian shop boy orphaned in Mandalay, who, on the eve of the 1885 British invasion, falls in love with Dolly, a beautiful handmaiden to the Queen of Burma. The conquering British send Burma's King Thebaw and his loyal court, including the young handmaiden, into exile in remote India. Rajkumar, left behind in Burma. Elegantly dressed in English clothes, Rajkumar sets off to India to find Dolly, the only woman he has ever loved. The long years in exile have devastated the royal family, leaving Dolly as their only servant. Through the wiles of the colonial administrator's wife, Uma Dey, Rajkumar wins an audience with Dolly and convinces her to return to Burma and marry him. She agrees, and shortly after her departure everything falls apart.

His his most recent book, The Hungry Tide (2000), is set in the Sundarbans, the vast, intermittently submerged archipelago, largely covered by mangrove forests, that forms the delta of the Ganges as it debouches into the Bay of Bengal. The region is supposed to derive its name from the sundari tree, as the mangrove is locally called; in his book, Ghosh speculates on whether the name may not more simply correspond to sundar ban, beautiful forest, as many prefer to believe. Two-thirds of the Sundarbans are in Bangladesh, only one-third in India: it is a region whose fishing folk easily traverse the imaginary boundaries of the modern nation-state, crossing, as the wind and the tides take them, the mouths of the many river-channels that set up a unique turbulence of fresh and salt water washing the islands of the archipelago.

Sea of Poppies (2008), is the first volume of The Ibis trriology, set in the 1830s, just before The Opium War, which encapsulates the colonial history of the East. At the heart of this vibrant saga is a vast slave ship, the Ibis. Baboo Nob Kissin, considers, "the Ibis was not a ship like any other; in her inward reality she was a vehicle of transformation, travelling through the mists of illusion towards the elusive, ever-receding landfall that was Truth." The novel unfolds with the stories of the events that bring these "ship-siblings -- jaházbhais and jaházbahens" on board and traces the beginning of their voyage from Calcutta to their unknown destinies across the Black Water. The Novel portrays the characters as poppy seeds emanating in large numbers from the field to form a sea, where every single seed is uncertain about its future. 

River of Smoke (2011) is the second volume of The Ibis trriology. After the incidents on Ibis, which was caught in a storm and eventually ended up in Mauritius, but with a few passengers less, the story in the novel begins from where it left off. From the details of the changing migrants in Mauritius, the novel traces the fate of other characters from Ibis and describes the opium trade in China. The novel as a rich tapestry of characters from varius cultural and geographical backgrounds whose common interest is trade with china. The plot is set in Fanqui town, a small strip of land used by foreigners to trade with local Chinese traders, a year before the first Opium War.

Thus, Amitav Ghosh has made a prominent place in Indian literature, who uses the technique of magic realism in order to explain the meaningfulness and profound vision of life.

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