Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
A Novel

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Synopsis

At the heart of this vibrant saga is a vast ship, the Ibis. Its destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean; its purpose, to fight China's vicious nineteenth-century Opium Wars. As for the crew, they are a motley array of sailors and stowaways, coolies and convicts.

In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a diverse cast of Indians and Westerners, from a bankrupt raja to a widowed tribeswoman, from a mulatto American freedman to a freespirited French orphan. As their old family ties are washed away, they, like their historical counterparts, come to view themselves as jahaj-bhais, or ship-brothers. An unlikely dynasty is born, which will span continents, races, and generations.

The vast sweep of this historical adventure spans the lush poppy fields of the Ganges, the rolling high seas, the exotic backstreets of Canton. But it is the panorama of characters, whose diaspora encapsulates the vexed colonial history of the East itself, that makes Sea of Poppies so breathtakingly alive—a masterpiece from one of the world's finest novelists.

 

About Amitav Ghosh

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Amitav Ghosh is the internationally bestselling author of many works of fiction and nonfiction, including The Glass Palace, and is the recipient of numerous awards and prizes. Ghosh divides his time between Kolkata and Goa, India, and Brooklyn, New York.
 
Published October 11, 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 525 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Sea of Poppies

Kirkus Reviews

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He’s commanded by brutal first mate Jack Crowle, who has no sympathy for anyone of any color, and by Captain Chillingworth, who warns passengers and crew, “at sea there is another law, and…on this vessel I am its sole maker.” Ghosh could be accused of using coincidence a bit too freely, but a mor...

Sep 01 2008 | Read Full Review of Sea of Poppies: A Novel

The New York Times

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As one character says murderously of another, “I’ll sleep easier after I’ve heard him singing the hempen croak.” This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: The Books of The Times review on Nov. 6, about the novel “Sea of Poppies,” by Amitav Ghosh, misidentified the point...

Nov 05 2008 | Read Full Review of Sea of Poppies: A Novel

The New York Times

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$26 In his ambitious new novel, “Sea of Poppies,” a finalist for this year’s Man Booker Prize, Amitav Ghosh attempts to fill in the blanks left by the archives.

Nov 28 2008 | Read Full Review of Sea of Poppies: A Novel

The Guardian

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Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh Buy it from the Guardian bookshop Search the Guardian bookshop The first in a promised trilogy and shortlisted for last year's Booker...

Apr 19 2009 | Read Full Review of Sea of Poppies: A Novel

The Guardian

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Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh Find this on the Guardian bookshop Search the Guardian bookshop Ghosh's latest work is the first volume of a trilogy, and its succes...

Apr 11 2009 | Read Full Review of Sea of Poppies: A Novel

The Guardian

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Sea of Poppies Amitav Ghosh John Murray £18.99, pp471 In Amitav Ghosh's remarkably rich saga, the first of three promised volumes, the sea of the title is more like a flood and a man-made disaster at that: the compulsory cultivation of opium poppies imposed on Indians by the East India Compa...

Jun 08 2008 | Read Full Review of Sea of Poppies: A Novel

The Guardian

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Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh 471pp, John Murray, £18.99 This terrific novel, the first volume in a projected trilogy, unfolds in north India and the Bay of Bengal in 1838 on the eve of the British attack on the Chinese ports known as the first opium war.

Jun 07 2008 | Read Full Review of Sea of Poppies: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Diaspora, myth and a fascinating language mashup propel the Rubik's cube of plots in Ghosh's picaresque epic of the voyage of the Ibis , a ship transporting Indian “girmitiyas” (coolies) to Mauritius in 1838.

Aug 18 2008 | Read Full Review of Sea of Poppies: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Ghosh's latest novel is a 19th-century epic of slaves, opium and the Indian diaspora.

Jan 26 2009 | Read Full Review of Sea of Poppies: A Novel

Christian Science Monitor

Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies, the first in a seafaring trilogy, unspools its tale in the run-up to the Opium Wars of the mid-19th century, when an expanding East India Company fought to smuggle opium grown in India into China for enormous profits.

Oct 28 2008 | Read Full Review of Sea of Poppies: A Novel

BookPage

Sea of Poppies takes place in 1838, when the opium trade between British - ruled India and China was in full swing.

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

"The touch of the orderly's fingers had a feel that Neel could never have imagined between two human beings," Ghosh writes of the imprisoned prince, " -- neither intimate nor angry, neither tender nor prurient -- it was the disinterested touch of mastery, of purchase or conquest?."

Oct 15 2008 | Read Full Review of Sea of Poppies: A Novel

PopMatters

As her father notes of her, “If she remains here, in the colonies, most particularly in a city like this, where Europe hides its shame and its greed, all that awaits her is degradation.” Then, he conveniently dies.

Dec 11 2008 | Read Full Review of Sea of Poppies: A Novel

Blogger News Network

Because China is seeking to abolish the opium trade, which will lead to the first of the Opium Wars, upon refurbishing the Ibis is pressed into service to transport girmitiya, indentured laborers, to plantations on the island of Mauritius.

Oct 22 2009 | Read Full Review of Sea of Poppies: A Novel

London Review of Books

If you are using the site for the first time please register here If you would like access to all 12,000 articles subscribe here Institutions or university library users please login here Learn more about our institutional subscriptions here A downloadable PDF version of this book review is...

Oct 22 2009 | Read Full Review of Sea of Poppies: A Novel

Bookmarks Magazine

Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh (The Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide) puts his former training as an anthropologist and historian to good use as he evokes rich period detail in his latest work.

Oct 19 2008 | Read Full Review of Sea of Poppies: A Novel

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