Putu the Cat

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Thursday, July 22, 2004

The Hungry Tide

Last night Putu finished reading Amitav Ghosh's 'The Hungry Tide' last night. Here's a review by Alok Rai in Outlook and a another one by Mithu Banerji in the Guardian. What's striking about Ghosh's work is the way he seamlessly manages to narrate so many stories at once. The book is as much about the Sunderbans, as it is about colonial policy under an eccentric Lord Hamilton, life in the rich fertile soil of the tide country, the merciless resettlement policies of the Indian government post 1947 leading to the central events in the book, dolphins and their habitat patterns, as well as about the complex relationship between the three central characters- Kanai, a middle class businessman from Delhi with a ear for languages; Piya- an Indian-American grad student who studies dolphins, and Fokir- a poor fisherman who lives in the tide country. Ghosh manages to convey the breathtaking beauty of the Sunderbans without even once romanticizing the perilous existence that those who live there face. The introduction of these two 'foreigners' (even though Kanai speaks the language of the locals, he is in reality, as much a foreigner as Piya), upsets the fine balance of life in Lusibari, a fictitious island. Ghosh has written with incredible lucidity, erudition and empathy for his subjects- The Hungry Tide is not different, and it might just be his best book to date. A final review by Sagarika Ghose in the Indian Express.


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