Fom the author of The Glass Palace, the widely-acclaimed bestseller. The Hungry Tide is a rich, exotic saga set in Calcutta and in the vast archipelago of islands in the Bay of Bengal. An Indian myth says that when the river Ganges first descended from the heavens, the force of the cascade was so great that the earth would have been destroyed if it had not been for the god Shiva, who tamed the torrent by catching it in his dreadlocks. It is only when the Ganges approaches the Bay of Bengal that it frees itself and separates into thousands of wandering strands. The result is the Sundarbans, an immense stretch of mangrove forest, a half-drowned land where the waters of the Himalayas merge with the incoming tides of the sea. It is this vast archipelago of islands that provides the setting for Amitav Ghosh's new novel. In the Sundarbans the tides reach more than 100 miles inland and every day thousands of hectares of forest disappear only to re-emerge hours later. Dense as the mangrove forests are, from a human point of view it is only a little less barren than a desert. There is a terrible, vengeful beauty here, a place teeming with crocodiles, snakes, sharks and man-eating tigers.
This is the only place on earth where man is more often prey than predator. And it is into this terrain that an eccentric, wealthy Scotsman named Daniel Hamilton tried to create a utopian society, of all races and religions, and conquer the might of the Sundarbans. In January 2001, a small ship arrives to conduct an ecological survey of this vast but little-known environment, and the scientists on board begin to trace the journeys of the descendants of this society.
The author was born in Calcutta and grew up in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and northern India. Educated in India and Britain, he now lives in New York.
'An exceptional writer.' Peter Matthieson 'A novelist of dazzling ingenuity' San Francisco Chronicle 'A distinctive voice, polished and profound' Times Literary Supplement 'An absorbing story of a world in transition, brought to life through characters who love and suffer with equal intensity.' JM Coetzee 'Ghosh is one of the most sympathetic post-colonial voices to be heard today. He looks at love and loyalty, and examines the question of Empire and responsibility, of tradition and modernity.' Ahdaf Souief 'Ghosh has established himself as one of the finest prose writers of his generation of Indians writing in English' Financial Times 'Amitav Ghosh is such a fascinating and seductive writer!a deeply serious writer, sure of his human and historical insights and confident in his ability to communicate them. I cannot think of another contemporary writer with whom it would be this thrilling to go so far, so fast' The Times 'Ghosh seamlessly blends ideas about the power of the photographic image with unforgettable descriptions of nature -- in a thoroughly enjoyable, intelligent epic that's bound to win him a wide and grateful readership'. Kirkus Reviews 'Ghosh's voice remains distinctive!it has a lush and sensuous quality which renders even the most historical of passages wonderfully readable.' Belfast Telegraph 'As always Ghosh wields his pen lightly, with supple prose being the order of the day.' Sunday Business Post 'Ghosh vividly brings to life the history of Burma and Malaya over a century of momentous change in this teeming, multigenerational saga.' Publishers Weekly 'You feel that Ghosh speaks with the true voice of the sub-continent, wise, superstitious and set firmly in age-old ritual.' Birmingham Post 'I will never forget the young and old Rajkumar, Dolly, the Princesses, the forests of teak, the wealth that made families and wars. A wonderful novel. An incredible story.' Grace Paley
Outsiders are drawn into the exotic vortex of a remote Pacific archipelago. In a complex narrative filled with echoes of Naipaul and especially Conrad (with an occasional nod to Peter Matthiessen's At Play in the Fields of the Lord), Anglo-Indian author Ghosh (The Glass Palace, 2001, etc.) interweaves the fates of several natives and visitors to the pristine (if not primitive) Sundarban Islands in the Bay of Bengal. Marine biologist Piya(la) Roy, raised in the United States by Indian parents, has come to the islands to study a rare and endangered marine species, the Irrawaddy dolphin. New Delhi businessman Kanai Dutt (creator of a thriving translation business) is visiting his aunt Nilima, and perusing the history (of the islands' exploitation by "people who made a push to protect the wildlife here, without regard to the human costs," and a failed utopian "revolution" waged by settlers and their sympathizers) contained in the journal of Kanai's uncle Nirmal, a probable victim of political murder. Matters are further complicated when Kanai serves as translator on Piya's research expedition, in a fishing boat piloted by taciturn islander Fokir, the adult son of an embattled woman (Kusum) who may have been Nirmal's lover, and appears to have shared his fate. Ghosh tells their stories in parallel narratives suffused with an impressive wealth of historical, cetological and ethnographic detail (which isn't always successfully dramatized). The result is a fascinating tapestry, in which idealistic motives and carefully preserved secrets alike are vulnerable to a world of various predators-a truth expressed in the beguiling legend of the islands' "protectress" in combat with a malevolent "tiger-demon," and during a climactic tropical storm followed by a fateful "tidal surge." A bit bumpy; still, overall, Ghosh's fifth is one of his most interesting. (Kirkus Reviews)
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The Borough Press