Behind Amitav Ghosh’s “Sea of Poppies”

A good read and a book I enjoyed a lot is Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies. The first volume in a projected trilogy, unfolds in north India and the Bay of Bengal in 1838 on the eve of the British attack on the Chinese ports known as the first opium war.

In Sea of Poppies, Ghosh assembles from different corners of the world sailors, marines and passengers for the Ibis, a slaving schooner now converted to the transport of coolies and opium. In bringing his troupe of characters to Calcutta and into the open water, Ghosh provides the reader with all manner of stories, and equips himself with the personnel to man and navigate an old-fashioned literary three-decker.

In his novel Ghosh dramatises and romanticises two great economic themes of the 19th century together: the cultivation of opium as a cash crop in Bengal and Bihar for the Chinese market, and the transport of Indian indentured workers to cut sugar canes for the British on such islands as Mauritius, Fiji and Trinidad.

I’ve read two books by Amitav Gosh which I enjoyed a lot, The glass palace (2000) and The hungry tide (2004). In these books he writes also off social change, migration in South Asia and the hardships of survival. I can’t wait for the next book of the trilogy.


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~ by eneryvibes on 1,August 5, 2010.

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