Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Hungry Tide

The Hungry Tide: A Novel The Hungry Tide: A Novel by Amitav Ghosh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Amitav Ghosh, the author of The Circle of Reason and The Shadow Lines, weaves a complex fabric with some of the fundamentals of the deepest corners of our mind: the animistic instinct, the urge to discover, and the magnetism of finding one's roots. All this woven against a primitive landscape of water and silt, time set against tidal surges and mangrove forest, a flat land low against a stormy sky in the Bengal delta, a place that Ghosh brings alive with the apparent deftness of long familiarity. The plot is brilliant--a young woman smitten with the bug of a naturalist's passion is looking for the elusive fresh water porpoise in the riverine Sunderbans, an uneducated fisherman youth, his youthful wife and the locals with convoluted past in the backdrop of 1970s Bengal, create a drama that is wholly compelling yet mysteriously magical. Ghosh draws with broad swaths of a charcoal, as it were, constructing a dark world of primitive elements that probe deeply into our human self with the ease and flourish of a master craftsman. Magic is in the air and water, in the sky and in dolphin's breath. The story attains a crescendo in the form of a huge storm that changes not merely the landscape. A book written with deft craftsmanship and intimate knowledge. Read it.

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