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Sunday, July 3, 2011
River Of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh
I am already half-way through this epic book, River Of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh. But before I finish the whole thing and do a review, here's a look at the first page of the book, as well as the cover jacket and what others have to say about it. And if, by the way, you have not yet got a copy, rush out now and buy one...you can read the reviews later :)
About the story:
'In September1838, a storm blows and the Ibis, a ship carrying a consignment of convicts and indentured labourers from Calcutta to Mauritius, is caught up in the whirlwind. When the seas settle, five men have disappeared - two lascars, two convicts and one of the passengers. Did the same storm upend the fortunes of those aboard the Anahita, an opium carrier heading towards Canton? And what fate befell those aboard the Redruth, a sturdy two-masted brig heading East out of Cornwall? Was it the storm that altered their course or were the destinies of these passengers at the mercy of even more powerful forces?
The author Amitav Ghosh
About the second in the Ibis trilogy:
On the grand scale of a historical epic, River of Smoke follows its storm-tossed characters to the crowded harbours of China. There, despite efforts of the Emperor to stop them, ships from Europe and India exchange their cargoes of opium for boxes of tea, silk, porcelian and silver. Among them are Bahram Modi, a wealthy Parsi opium merchant out of Bombay, his estranged half-Chines son Ah Fatt, the orphaned amateur botanist Paulette and a motley collection of others in pursuit of romance, riches and a legendary rare flower. All struggle to cope with their losses - and, for some, unimaginable freedoms - in the alleys and crowded waterways of nineteenth-century Canton.
From the first para:
"Deeti's shrine was hidden in a cliff, in a far corner of Mauritius, where the island's eastern and southern shorelines collide to form the wind-whipped dome of the Morne Brabant. The site was a geological anomaly - a cave within a spur of limestone, hollowed out by wind and water - and there was nothing like it anywhere else on the mountain. Later Deeti would insist that it wasn't chance but destiny that led her to it - for the very existence of the place was unimaginable until you had actually stepped inside it."
As transporting and mesmerising as an opiate-induced dream, River of Smoke, book two in Amitav Ghosh's Ibis trilogy, will be heralded as a masterpiece of twenty-first century literature.
- Debolina Raja Gupta