Van has finished reading…Sea Of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh

5 Mar

It could be a thoroughly bewildering experience to try and weave your way through this book. It’s the first I’ve come across that has its own website dedicated to the lexicon. It’s an interesting feeling though, to find yourself on the brink of understanding when umpteen sails on a tossing ship are being furled or unfurled – the language serves to deepen the sense of scene, even when half-understood. It’s in those tense moments, or in the emotional outbursts of overblown colonials that it comes to the fore. The characters are many and varied, too, and with the exception of the white colonialists, not one of them presents themselves as who they are from start to finish. Latent in each – like a dormant poppy seed – is a different person ready to emerge.

  It’s a book of underdogs, and so by association a book of overlords too. A converted slave ship carrying a free-born son of a slave and slave owner – white enough to pass – carries indentured workers from the opium coast to cut sugar in Mauritius. And you can see the shade of empire, and how it was neatly built, and on whose backs.

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