Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2008: a stunningly vibrant novel from Amitav Ghosh.
Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta in 1956. He grew up in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India. He studied at the universities of Delhi and Oxford and published the first of six novels, The Circle of Reason in 1986. He has taught at a number of institutions, most recently Harvard, and written for many publications. He currently divides his time between Calcutta, Goa and Brooklyn, and is writing the next volume of what will become the Ibis Trilogy.
Ship of fools? The folks aboard the Ibis, which is heading across the Indian Ocean to enter the Opium Wars, include an impoverished raja, a mulatto American, and a French orphan. With a reading group guide. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
'A glorious babel of a novel ! marvellously inventive ! utterly involving ! The next volume cannot come too soon' -- Sunday Times 'A hugely absorbing and enjoyable book. It is observant, intelligent and passionately written ! like the opium that forms its subject, the narrative becomes increasingly addictive as it takes hold' -- William Dalrymple, FT 'A remarkably rich saga' -- Observer 'Each scene is boldly drawn, but it is the sheer energy and verve of Amitav Ghosh's storytelling that binds this ambitious medley' -- Daily Mail
Diaspora, myth and a fascinating language mashup propel the Rubik's cube of plots in Ghosh's picaresque epic of the voyage of the Ibis, a ship transporting Indian "girmitiyas" (coolies) to Mauritius in 1838. The first two-thirds of the book chronicles how the crew and the human cargo come to the vessel, now owned by rising opium merchant Benjamin Burnham. Mulatto second mate Zachary Reid, a 20-year-old of Lord Jim-like innocence, is passing for white and doesn't realize his secret is known to the "gomusta" (overseer) of the coolies, Baboo Nob Kissin, an educated Falstaffian figure who believes Zachary is the key to realizing his lifelong mission. Among the human cargo, there are three fugitives in disguise, two on the run from a vengeful family and one hoping to escape from Benjamin. Also on board is a formerly high caste raj who was brought down by Benjamin and is now on his way to a penal colony. The cast is marvelous and the plot majestically serpentine, but the real hero is the English language, which has rarely felt so alive and vibrant. (Oct.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.