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Sea of Poppies: A Novel by Amitav Ghosh

Sea of Poppies: A Novel (original 2008; edition 2009)

by Amitav Ghosh

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2,3401333,882 (3.96)2 / 656
Title:Sea of Poppies: A Novel
Authors:Amitav Ghosh
Info:Picador (2009), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 560 pages
Collections:Your library

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Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh (2008)


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English (130)  Italian (4)  Spanish (2)  Catalan (2)  Norwegian (2)  Vietnamese (1)  All languages (141)
Showing 1-5 of 130 (next | show all)
No idea why this book is lauded. It is hard to imagine a more contrived story, the author is like a hackneyed puppet master who shoehorns a disparate bunch of characters onto a boat for dramatic affect. They were also not complex or nuanced characters, nor was the writing playing with any interesting style or using allegory to convey some greater idea. Just plain awful. ( )
  cabron55 | Apr 12, 2018 |
A brilliant book with a myriad of characters and stories, set in 19th century India. It's the first part of a trilogy and I'm looking forward to reading the second book (although I notice most people who read it, rated it lower).
Recommended if you like elaborate stories and characters. ( )
  MGovers | Mar 15, 2018 |
Historical fiction set in India at the time the British were promoting opium growth in India for export to China. While the history part seems well founded, the characters are largely fictional.
Beautifully written with clear, flowing process that effortlessly carries the reader into a different world. The characters are not especially deep, but are realistic and believable.
Read November 2017 ( )
  mbmackay | Nov 16, 2017 |
I can't decide whether to give this three stars or four. The characters fascinate me, and the author's succeeded in making me care what happens to them. However, all the nautical talk gets boring. There's having some authentic nautical jargon for accuracy and then there's pages and pages of descriptions of chores on a ship that don't drive the plot anywhere. Perhaps that interests some people, but I'm more interested in what happens to the characters than ship's business. I look forward to reading the next installment when, I hope, they'll have arrived at their destination and ditched the ship. ( )
  Lindoula | Sep 25, 2017 |
An epic tale that centers on a near-mythical ship, the Ibis, a schooner destined for a voyage from India to China during the start of the Opium Wars. A panorama of characters, Western, Indian, and, Asian seek new fortunes, leaving their lives and ties behind for the risky voyage to the Mauritius where most expect to fulfill contracts as indentured servants, a few more desperate characters seek fuller freedom, and several women hope to assert their burgeoning desires for new identities.

What I really enjoyed in Sea of Poppies was the expanse of vocabulary employed in this sea-faring novel. Words from English, Bengali, Hindi, dialects of Calcutta/Kolkata, French, Portuguese, and liberal usage of late 18th C. British English cant (slang) are all pressed into service. The book was superbly enriched by claiming language from all the national influences on colonial India and sailing ship jargon in a multitude of languages as well. While Ghosh writes in English, that doesn't begin to cover the spiciness his prose displays in conveying the exotic atmosphere of this book.

Rich language is not the only attractant of this novel. There are a multitude of major characters that in the hands of another writer could become confusing. But Ghosh introduces each in such a way that we are inserted into their lives, learn their histories, and care about their problems in the most natural and memorable way such that as their individual stories weave in and out to become the fabric of the saga, they remain distinct and alive in our memory and no confusion results.

Widely read LTers will probably be reminded of Katherine Anne Porter's Ship of Fools, a classic and allegorical tale of a similarly disparate crew and passengers who cross the Atlantic on the eve of WWII, destination Germany. For vivid story-telling, sympathetic characters, compelling conflicts, and brilliant color in setting, Sea of Poppies is a masterpiece of all the elements of fiction and a book not to be missed by readers who enjoy hard charging adventure, literary style, and original talent. ( )
  Limelite | Sep 14, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 130 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Amitav Ghoshprimary authorall editionscalculated
Risvik, KjellTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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The vision of a tall-masted ship, at sail on the ocean, came to Deeti on an otherwise ordinary day, but she knew instantly that the apparition was a sign of destiny for she had never seen such a vessel before, not even in a dream: how could she have, living as she did in northern Bihar, four hundred miles from the coast?
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(...) dat de essentie van die transformatie gelegen was in een enkel woord (...)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312428596, Paperback)

The first in an epic trilogy, Sea of Poppies is "a remarkably rich saga . . . which has plenty of action and adventure à la Dumas, but moments also of Tolstoyan penetration--and a drop or two of Dickensian sentiment" (The Observer [London]).

At the heart of this vibrant saga is a vast ship, the Ibis. Her destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean shortly before the outbreak of the Opium Wars in China. In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a diverse cast of Indians and Westerners on board, 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. The vast sweep of this historical adventure spans the lush poppy fields of the Ganges, the rolling high seas, and the exotic backstreets of Canton. With a panorama of characters whose diaspora encapsulates the vexed colonial history of the East itself, Sea of Poppies is "a storm-tossed adventure worthy of Sir Walter Scott" (Vogue).


(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:16 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

At the heart of this vibrant saga is a vast ship, the Ibis. Her destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean shortly before the outbreak of the Opium Wars in China.

(summary from another edition)

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