Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
Genre: Historical fiction
Paperback, 530 pages
Published May 1st 2008 by John Murray (first published 2008)
Rating: 4 of 5
Comments: My husband listened eagerly to the entire audio book version. That's a pretty good endorsement. He was somewhat disappointed though by the ending, as there were loose ends not tied up. He felt the author didn't quite know what to do with all the myriad characters he created in this awesome historical drama. He'll be glad to know that Sea of Poppies is only the first in the Ibis trilogy, and that the story is not over.
I was intrigued by the myriad accents put on by the eBook reader, Phil Gigante, and by the pidgin and Anglo-Indian words used in 19th century India. Gigante's voice versatility gave color and immediacy to the reading of the novel.
Goodreads book description: "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 free-spirited 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 China. 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."
The novel is a Man Booker Prize nominee (2008).
© Harvee Lau 2011