Book Review-Sea of Poppies

Book -Sea of Poppies

Author-Amitava Ghosh

I immensely enjoy Amitava Ghosh’s writings. Of the contemporary Indian authors who write in English , I rate him highly . And so ,I was really looking forward to reading the Sea of Poppies . This book is the first in the Ibis Trilogy .

The story is set in the 1830’s when China is on the cusp of the Opium Wars . The beautiful ,gay ,white flowers of poppy and its derivative Poppy are the central figures in this mammoth tale . Ghosh weaves a beautiful ,panorama of a dogma and caste riddled India , the ensuing cultural conflicts and British Colonisation . The cast is vast and diverse . There are Deeti and Kalua who are escaping persecution , there is Raja Neel Ratan who is reduced to naught ,there is the French girl Paulette with an unusual childhood , there is Zachary who has sailed from Boston to Calcutta and many more. It was interesting to follow the development of the characters . The story has graphic depictions of violence ,prison life ,betrayal.. It is also complete in the sense that it has all the elements to keep the reader engrossed ;betrayal, drama ,storms at sea ,fall from grace and of course adventure .The theme of identity also assumes a fairly central place in this book .

The narrative is rich with historical detail and the massive amount of research shows through the many dialects, pidgin and slangs that abound in the book .It was a little tedious to navigate through the dialogues ,but eventually I just focussed on the gist and stopped fretting about the  semantics .Despite being distracting at times ,the Anglo-Indian dialects do bring authenticity to the writing .

The book is definitely a huge accomplishment but leaves the reader wanting for more …Which essentially makes you want to quickly move on to the subsequent books in the trilogy …Sea of Poppies


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