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In An Antique Land by Amitav Ghosh

In An Antique Land (1992)

by Amitav Ghosh

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6401115,108 (3.81)48
  1. 00
    The City of the Sharp-Nosed Fish by Peter Parsons (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Both these books deal, in part, with the view of daily life which was revealed to historians by the unexpected survival of waste paper (old shopping lists, letters, and other detritus of daily life) in the dry Egyptian air.
  2. 00
    ALLAKAZZAM! by Daniel Abelman (bintarab)
    bintarab: Like Ghosh's book, Abelman's work involves Jewish culture in diaspora not as a treatise on the subject, but with the understanding that the characters' lives are profoundly affected by life experiences that transcend borders.

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Interesting memoir of the author's time spent in Egypt and the people he met there, interspersed with the story of a 12th century Indian trader, the subject of the research that took Ghosh there originally as a student. A bit awkward at times, as the two stories didn't mesh for me as well as the blurbs and reviews suggest. Some of the transitions were pretty blunt. Overall, an informative and relatively engaging read. I gave it 3 1/2 stars.

Review written in August, 2011 ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Dec 22, 2014 |
An Indian writer, navigating between anthropological studies in Egypt and modern life in India, reflects on the changes in modern Egypt and its rich history as part of a wider eastern culture. He takes us navigating across Europe, the middle East and India with a mediaeval jewish trading elite, showing us the alternative civilisations that existed before Western Europe's colonising endeavours. His Egyptians live in a world that's deeply and passionately embedded in its history, and striding cautiously into a different future. And at the same time we navigate through the world of academia, deciphering randomly preserved mysteries and walking through forgotten lives set out in nefariously harvested manuscripts. Fascinating, informative, thought provoking
  otterley | Mar 26, 2014 |
This was an interesting and well-written part memoir, part exploration into history through manuscripts. I enjoyed reading about Ghosh's experiences in a land foreign to him (Egypt) as well as he investigations into the story of a Jewish merchant from the 12th century. ( )
  sbsolter | Feb 6, 2014 |
Ghosh, a then-young Indian living in Egypt while conducting research on the Indian slave of a Jewish master, interweaves the story of his own experiences with those of the slave that can be known or inferred, placing both in historical and cultural context. Because some of his experiences parallel his subject's, particularly cultural isolation, Ghosh is able to convey the poignancy, and sometimes disgust, of being a stranger in a strange land. Though the blending of the two stories doesn't quite jell, it's still a very interesting and moving memoir. ( )
  OshoOsho | Mar 30, 2013 |
This is both an account of an Indian slave who was owned by a Jewish merchant in the 1100's, and an account of the time that Ghosh spent in Egypt.

Both accounts were interesting. I found passages about trade among the Middle East, N. Africa, India and Southern Europe during the Middle Ages to be especially fascinating. Ghosh's attempts to uncover the identity of the slave and to learn about his life are also interesting, though it seems to me that his conclusions were almost all pure educated speculation based on too lttle evidence. The slave's master makes up almost all of the narrative of the slave. Given that there is, of course, so little written material concerning the slave, or any of the lower classes of that time, it's to be expected.

The account Ghosh gives of his several visits to Egypt over a decade or so are also interesting. ( )
1 vote bookwoman247 | Dec 31, 2011 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ghosh, Amitavprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Müller, MatthiasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nadotti, AnnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679727833, Paperback)

In an Antique Land is a subversive history in the guise of a traveller's tale. When the author stumbles across a slave narrative in the margins of an ancient text, his curiosity is piqued. What follows is a ten year search, which brings author and slave together across 800 hundred years of colonial history. Bursting with anecdote and exuberant detail, it offers a magical, intimate biography of the private life of a country, Egypt, from the Crusades to Operation Desert Storm.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:22 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The author recounts his ten-year investigation into the life a twelfth-century Indian slave who lived in a remote corner of Egypt.

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