How do we define a good book...I read somehwere most probably in High School..some books are to be swallowed, some to be chewed..but Google is there..let me find out the complete quote..
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
Sir Francis bacon
It has been a week I have finished reading ' River Of Smoke' and was swept in the after effects a few days more. Yes many books are there..to be tasted swallowed etc etc and some books just defies all dimensions..not only transports the soul to a roller coaster ride through the lives of the characters, it,s just that opening a page just changes the backdrop at once..I move back around two hundred years in time in a country I have never been and am caught up in the tornado of events.
I have read Amitav Ghosh before and more or less loved all the books. The Hungry Tide was specially dear to me because of the riveting experiences of Sundarbans..the mystries of the mangroves..and the chemistry between the leading characters Fakir and Piyali.
The Sea Of Poppies was the first in Ibis trilogy, tale of opium being cultivated in India, rich fertile lands meant to yield crops turned into narcotic hubs by selfish traders, the plight of Raja framed by the shrewd British , oblivious to the finances of his estate lands in Alipore Jain Calcutta,and then the story of Deeti and Kalua social outskirts eloping to find themselves deported to Mauritius along with other slaves in Ibis.
River Of Smoke came second in the trilogy. I delayed reading this book as I did not want to get in the Ibis world yet too soon..the plight of the deportees, being caged like animals, suffeing bouts of sea sickness stuck in the underground of Ibis..their dream of escape. Yes 'River Of Smoke' did begin from where Sea Of Poppies ended..the journey of the fugitives of Ibis yet Ibis gets off the centrestage in the turn of events before the reader realises and Redruth and Anahita occupies the seaward voyage.
In a subtle progression of the narrative the Ibis and its characters take the backstage pushing forward a new city Canton unfurling like a book in the eyes of readers, Canton and fanqui town .. the ' pidgin' language ( I think Ghosh,s uniqueness lies in mastering the languages and dialects, be it the language of lascars in Sea Of Poppies, or " pidgin" in River Of Smoke). Foreigners.. American, Europeans and yes Indian traders ( Indian trader to be precise) flocking in the city, shipping their cargoes, cargoes full of opium cultivated in India, joining hands with local merchants to smuggle the shipment, ruin two counties India and China and bask in the glory of reaping huge monetary benefits and all these being the ' loyal subjects of Her Majesty, Queen of England'
|Canton (Guangzhou) , Pearl River|