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Sea of Poppies [Paperback]

Amitav Ghosh
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 18.01 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

Sept. 29 2009

The first in an epic trilogy, Sea of Poppies is "a remarkably rich saga . . . which has plenty of action and adventure à la Dumas, but moments also of Tolstoyan penetration--and a drop or two of Dickensian sentiment" (The Observer [London]).


At the heart of this vibrant saga is a vast ship, the Ibis. Her destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean shortly before the outbreak of the Opium Wars in China. In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a diverse cast of Indians and Westerners on board, from a bankrupt raja to a widowed tribeswoman, from a mulatto American freedman to a free-spirited French orphan. As their old family ties are washed away, they, like their historical counterparts, come to view themselves as jahaj-bhais, or ship-brothers. The vast sweep of this historical adventure spans the lush poppy fields of the Ganges, the rolling high seas, and the exotic backstreets of Canton. With a panorama of characters whose diaspora encapsulates the vexed colonial history of the East itself, Sea of Poppies is "a storm-tossed adventure worthy of Sir Walter Scott" (Vogue).



 

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Review

A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year • A Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year • A Washington Post Best Book of the Year • An Economist Best Book of the Year

 

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize



"A wonderful book, a large ambitious novel in which extraordinary people come to life and vibrant, exotic places are memorably depicted."--The Rocky Mountain News

"A delight . . . [Ghosh's] descriptions bring a lost world to life."--The Washington Post

“Brilliant...By the book’s stormy and precarious ending, most readers will clutch it like the ship’s rail awaiting, just like Ghosh’s characters, the rest of the voyage to a destination unknown.”--USA Today

"Ghosh's best and most ambitious work yet. . . . Ghosh writes with impeccable control, and with a vivid and sometimes surprising imagination."--The New Yorker

"Ghosh, on behalf of history, is unforgiving, but his novel is also a delight."--Miami Herald

"A storm tossed adventure worthy of Sir Walter Scott."--Vogue

"Amitav Ghosh's new novel speaks in tongues, marvelously capturing the polyglot nature of its characters. . . . Sea of Poppies is marvelous, its range and authority astonishing."--The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

"Sea of Poppies is a veritable cauldron of energy intermingling with craft."--Chicago Sun-Times

About the Author

AMITAV GHOSH is the internationally bestselling author of many works of fiction and nonfiction, including the novel The Glass Palace, and the recipient of numerous prizes and awards. He divides his time among Kolkata and Goa, India, and Brooklyn, New York.


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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rich, beautiful, engaging Feb. 10 2009
Format:Hardcover
This rich novel--the first in a trilogy--brings us to the plains of the Ganges during the beginnings of the Opium war, where the lives of a series of fascinating and diverse characters intersect: a wealthy, well-educated Raja, a young widow who grows poppies on a small plot of land, a British businessman who trades in opium, an American sailor, a group of culturally diverse and linguistically challenging sailors from around the Indian Ocean, a young French woman who grew up in India with her botanist father, a foul-mouthed and envious first-mate, and many many more. Ghosh invites us on a journey in time, in place, in language, and true to his previous works, it is so rich in detail, so convincing, so engaging that one truly feels they have been transported into another world. The reader, however, has to accept his proposal of entering into another culture (the culture of the trading ships in particular) and, similar to a journey to a foreign land, to not always understand the details of what is being said or done, but instead gather clues from the rest of the action and atmosphere. What is as much a tour de force--though so subtle as to be remarked only by those with a predisposition to thinking about such issues--is the way he evokes through his characters themes such as habitus, embodiment, identity and other concepts dear to anthropologists. As his characters migrate, change caste, fall or rise in social status and are generally confronted with sometimes radical shifts in their circumstances, they must also adapt their habits, diet, language, clothing, social interactions, perception of skin colour, and indeed their names. It must be emphasized, however, that Ghosh never is didactic (unlike some authors). Read more ›
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rollicking read April 2 2009
By Len TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was surprised by the novel's Indian setting however, after reading, it makes perfect sense. Much of the opium exported by the British Empire originated from India. The characters include a mulatto sailor, a wealthy Indian land owner, a British sea merchant specializing, an Indian serf and her cart driving lover, a daughter of a famous British botanist and a Chinese opium addict of mixed race origins. It takes Mr. Ghosh quite a number of pages to introduce all his characters. The novel begins with the frantic fight for survival aboard an old slave ship, the "Ibis", as it makes its way from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean where it will begin new duties unknown to the occupants. Then comes the introduction of our East Asian cast of characters. I wondered about the number of characters and the detailed description however, they all come together on the ship where our story began. I found the book almost impossible to put down for the last hundred pages and then he ends with a hook that would rival any episode on television meant to bring me back for the next season. I cannot wait for the next installment to be published.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A talented reader reads a talented writer June 16 2009
By Yuri H
Format:Audio CD
I will not cover the book itself, I'll just add that it is as good as the other reviews say it is: fun, fascinating and very engaging. I just wanted to add my review of the audio book as read by Phil Gigante.

Often times a great audio book can be spoiled by a terrible reader, but in this case, I believe Mr. Gigante, adds greatly to what already is a a feast for the imagination. His great voice and clear diction makes it a fun listen, especially considering how much of the text is non-english. He brings the characters to life with care and attention and is able to remain in character through out the book. This is an A+ effort and I highly recommend it as a fun bit of historical escapism. I'm glad I had a chance to hear it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings May 3 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The story is interesting but the indian expressions are not understood by most readers so it makes for annoying reading,
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