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Sea of Poppies [Hardcover]

Amitav Ghosh
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 7 2008 The Indian Ocean Trilogy

At the heart of this epic saga, set just before the Opium Wars, is an old slave ship The Ibis. Its destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean; its crew a motley array of sailors, stowaways, and convicts. In a time of colonial upheaval, the ship boasts a diverse cast of Indians, coolies, and Westerners, from a bankrupt raja to a widowed village woman, from a mulatto American to an evangelical opium trader. As their family ties wash away, they come to view themselves as jahaj-bhais, or ship-brothers, and an unlikely dynasty is born. The vast sweep of this historical adventure spans the lush poppy fields of the Ganges, the rolling high seas, and the back streets of China. But it is the panorama of sharply drawn characters that brings Sea of Poppies so breathtakingly alive. The first in a trilogy, this is a masterpiece by a world-class novelist.


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Review

'Ripping post-colonial yarn ... Ghosh spins a fine story with a quite irresistible flow, breathing exuberant life ... an absorbing vision' -- Guardian 'Sea of Poppies Boasts a varied collection of characters to love and hate, and provides wonderfully detailed descriptions of opium production ... utterly involving and piles on tension until the very last page' -- Peter Parker, Sunday Times 'Ghosh's narrative is enriched with a wealth of historical detail ... as well as intricate characterisation that makes interaction among the diverse group truly absorbing' -- The Times 'A richly drawn cast of characters ... gilded with expertly-mined historical detail' -- Sunday Business Post --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and grew up in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India. He studied at the universities of Delhi and Oxford, has taught at a number of institutions and written for many magazines. River of Smoke is the second in the Ibis trilogy, the first of which, the bestselling Sea of Poppies, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2008.


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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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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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4.0 out of 5 stars For the most part I enjoyed this book April 5 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
At times difficult to read because of the patois and Hindi slang, really loved the story until the end which seemed to bog down at times. Well written generally.
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1.0 out of 5 stars sea of poppies March 9 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book does not fall under a regular classification. The style of writing belongs to a culture other than Western or English. The main character (if there is one) belongs to a genre that is quite foreign to the Westernized reader. Although the grammar is faultless, the style resembles western prose. I bought this book and it was a waste of time and money.
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