The Shadow Lines

shadow-linesThe Shadow Lines

by Amitav Ghosh | 288 Pages | Genre: Fiction| Publisher: Penguin Books India| Year: 1988 | My Rating: 8.5/10

“He said to me once that one could never know anything except through desire, real desire, which was not the same thing as greed or lust; a pure, painful and primitive desire, a longing for everything that was not in oneself, a torment of the flesh, that carried once beyond the limits of one’s mind to other times and other places, and even, if one was lucky, to a place where there was no border between oneself and one’s imagine in the mirror.”

— Amitav Ghosh, The Shadow Lines

Amitav Ghosh captures the lines connecting time and events, and people with each other bound by ties of blood and history. This work of fiction is narrated by and follows the life of a young boy growing up in Calcutta with his grand mother and parents, and later in Delhi and London for his higher education. His Grandmother and Mayadebi are sisters, who grew up in Dhaka pre-partition. After the death of her husband, grandmother works at a school to raise her son without depending upon any charity, while Mayadebi marries a Diplomat and lives a life of luxury. Two characters plays pivotal role in the narrator’s life are Ila, a distant cousin of his from Mayadebi’s side to whom he is attracted yet his yearnings go unrequited, and Tridib, who’s Maya’s son. The story unfolds through flashbacks, then progresses occasionally in the present.

This book with numerous characters and intricate web of memories moving back and forth, is my Read of the Week.

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River of Smoke

150px-River_of_smoke“Opium is like the wind or the tides: it is outside my power to affect its course. A man is neither good nor evil because he sails his ship upon the wind. It is his conduct towards those around him – his friends, his family, his servants – by which he must be judged”

– Amitav Ghosh, River of Smoke

‘River of Smoke’, a brilliant historical fiction set in late 19th century China is my “Read of the week”.

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