River of Smoke, 2011 Shortlist
Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta in 1956 and grew up in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India. He studied at the universities of Delhi and Oxford and has taught at a number of institutions, most recently Harvard, and written for many publications. He is the author of several novels including the bestselling Sea of Poppies which was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2008. He currently divides his time between Calcutta, Goa and Brooklyn.
On the grand scale of an historical epic, River of Smoke follows its storm-tossed characters to the crowded harbors of China. There, despite efforts of the emperor to stop them, ships from Europe and India exchange their cargoes of opium for boxes of tea, silk, porcelain and silver. Among them are Bahram Modi, a wealthy Parsi opium merchant out of Bombay, his estranged half-Chinese son Ah Fatt, the orphaned Paulette and a motley collection of others whose pursuit of romance, riches and a legendary rare flower have thrown together. All struggle to cope with their losses – and for some, unimaginable freedoms – in the alleys and crowded waterways of 19th century Canton. As transporting and mesmerizing as an opiate induced dream, River of Smoke will soon be heralded as a masterpiece of twenty-first century literature. Following Sea of Poppies, this is the second novel in Ghosh’s Ibis trilogy.
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