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

10 thoughts on “Sea of Poppies

  1. says:

    This rollicking adventure story about colonial India was beaten to the 2008 Booker Prize by The White Tiger, a novel that trades on its gritty realism but which is actually just as much a fantasy of Indian life as this one On the face of it, Sea of Poppies seems the enjoyable It has a huge, Dickensian cast that includes a fallen Rajah, a Chinese opium addict, a European girl gone native, a cross dressing reincarnated saint, an American freedman and a poppy farmer s widow, and its plot takes in dramatic rescues, nefarious Brits, girls dressed as boys, floggings and secret assignations and portentous items of jewelry Yet somehow there seems to be little going on under the surface it s thematically a bit hollow and I kept feeling that I should be liking it than I was.At first glance, it s the sort of writing that should really appeal to me, because Ghosh s entry into this world and to these characters is all linguistic Every character has their own ludicrous demotic, with our American second mate exclaiming, Grease us twice What the hell you pesticatin me for, while Paulette, a young Frenchwoman, speaks in an entertaining but completely implausible Franglais you are just pleasanting me , he was quite bouleversed The main narrative voice, meanwhile, is a hallucinogenic Anglo Indian farrago that has been turned up to eleven, like Hobson Jobson in an opium dream the density of the following paragraph is not untypical In this floating bazar there was everything a ship or a lascar might need canvas by the gudge, spare jugboolaks and zambooras, coils of istingis and rup yan, stacks of seetulpatty mats, tobacco by the batti, rolls of neem twigs for the teeth, martabans of isabgol for constipation, and jars of columbo root for dysentery one ungainly gordower even had a choola going with a halwai frying up fresh jalebis.I have a high tolerance for indeed love of opaque vocabulary, but even I found it wearing here the effect is too extreme to come across as anything but parodic Tellingly, Ghosh reserves a special thank you in his afterword for the dictionarists whose work he so assiduously plundered not just Hobson Jobson, but also a variety of colonial era slang lists and glossaries, like A Laskari Dictionary or Anglo Indian Vocabulary of Nautical Terms and Phrases in English and Hindustani It s hard not to wish he d been a smidgen sparing in how he used this research.Though I found it strangely unsatisfying, there is a lot to like here, really lush, gothic descriptions of an opium factory, a British jail, the hold of a slaving vessel are all well worth the cover price, and the characters are so bizarre that they rarely struggle to hold your interest I had a lot of fun, but I don t feel in a mad rush to read the rest of the trilogy.

  2. says:

    I give a high place to Ghosh among contemporary English Authors from India.A saga of a ship, the Ibis, in the Indian Ocean and beautiful depiction of local characters in typical Indian way enthralled me and it kept me engaged with its characters and story.This is a sprawling novel and its historical treatment is wonderful.I am sure, as Ghosh also acknowledges that he has toiled really hard, doing research of this certain period from the past He has masterfully woven the economic hardship and elements of British imperialism of early 19th century India.This is very panoramic, rich in both suspense and satire.Story revolves around the opium trade and encompasses poverty and riches, expectations and despair in a very drunk language.Imaginative capacities of Ghosh are always awesome and the way he has written his sentences with full elements of local languages here in this novel engrossed me in the plot.It consists of everything Love interests, village atrocities, betrayal,voyage, comic scenes, lots of water and many elements.During village weddings,it was always the women who sang when the bride was torn from her parents embrace.Men remain if they were acknowledging, through their silence that they,as men, had no words to describe the pain of a child who is exiled from home How will it pass This night of parting A must read polyphonic saga from Amitav Ghosh

  3. says:

    It has been said that the Ibis, a seafaring schooner, bound from Balti to Calcutta and destined to transport opium to China lay at the heart of this story and while I agree that the Ibis is central to the tale being told, the true heart of this saga and what ultimately brings together a diverse cast of characters is opium Rich in historical detail and panoramic views of land and sea this story is set in the 1830 s just on the cusp of the opium wars in China Ghosh expertly weaves together the back stories of a colourful cast including among many others a widowed opium farmer from the banks of the Ganges, the mulatto son of a Maryland freedwoman, the orphaned daughter of a French botanist, a bankrupt raja and an opium addict from China, while deftly imbuing the readers involvement in and concern for the fate of these people and their loved ones The narrative is peppered, most especially in the beginning, with slang, pidgin and many different dialects, which at first I found quite disconcerting and overwhelming as I struggled to understand every word Fortunately though I realized soon enough that I was able to comprehend the gist of things just fine and decided henceforth to stop fretting about it and just allow the words and dialogue to wash over me Ghosh paints a very dark picture of humanity at this time and place, showcasing how governments in this case British and Indian lord it over others of lesser means and status, both on and off board, the great ship Ibis While no doubt accurate it can be difficult to have a front row seat from which to view the often inhumane treatment that some people willingly and righteously inflict on others While I may have initially and through much of the reading of this first instalment been inclined to award this five full stars, the ending left much to be desired Ghosh leaves the reader literally drenched and clinging to the storm swept deck of the Ibis, completely unaware of the immediate fate of the very people he has spent the last 500 odd pages making you care about It is almost as though he stops telling his tale mid sentence While this may have been okay for me now, given that I had the next book in the trilogy immediately available, I can well imagine how I might have felt had I not Yes that would no doubt have quite successfully pissed me off So be forewarned and arm yourself with River of Smoke before you set sail on this journey over the black water which I highly recommend you take.

  4. says:

    Sjajan pisac, divan ovek i prelepa knjiga Imala sam to zadovoljstvo da se dva puta sretnem s autorom, jednom na sajmu knjiga u Frankfurtu kada sam kupila prava za njegove knjige i kasnije na sajmu knjiga u Beogradu kada ve vi e nisam radila kod njegovog izdava a On toliko odi e toplinom i skromno u da elite da se to du e zadr ite u razgovoru s njim Na alost, kao da je izdava odustao od njega jer poslednje 4 godine ni ta njegovo nisu objavili, teta

  5. says:

    TransformationThis is the first epic instalment of the IBIS Trilogy The story starts in 1838 on the eve of the first opium wars Deeti is the central character of the story and she is the widow of an opium addicted husband and avoids the immolation pyre a tradition she should have undergone to follow a vision of a journey on an ocean going ship The IBIS is that ship and she escapes her fate with help, to establish a new destiny in another land.On the Ibis travels to recruit coolies from Calcutta to the sugar estates of Mauritius, it assembles a fascinating group of characters, with Deeti, joined by Kalua a low caste servant, Raja Neel Rattan a bankrupt landowner, Paulette a young French botanist and her Indian foster brother Jodu, Zachary an American sailor, Benjamin Burnham an unscrupulous British merchant, and his agent Baboo Nob Kissin The group face all sorts of adventures and trials and there is that inevitable cultural collision between the Indian caste system and the Western world With the Raja, there is a wonderful gradual erosion of his lofty position, as he becomes bankrupt and his social standing starts to disintegrate How will other now see and deal with him, especially the low caste Indians The story is a powerful and dramatic tour through mid 19th century British Indian history with fictional characters that feel so real The insight into the opium trade and the British global plantation and slavery trade, are brought to life and are really quite shocking The range of characters is diverse and creates great opportunities for very interesting clashes of culture and perspective.The language details are incredibly authentic and a lot of research has gone into the traits of dialects and slang language, from sailors to servants, and from merchants to Rajas For many, the dialogue is what makes this book really stand apart With dialogue such as Malum had cuttee he head He said What you wanchee this piece boy He blongi boat bugger no can learn ship pijjin Better he wailo chop chop I can appreciate the authenticity of the language and terms associated with sailing and Indian colloquialisms, but for me, it does interrupt the story so much that it slowed my reading considerably Others may find this a real positive but I found it a little difficult going.I would recommend reading this book for the wonderful insights into that period and the imaginary portrayed with the characters and locations.

  6. says:

    donald harington recommended this book to me and now that he s gone, i can t even talk about it with him, and that is what i was thinking the whole time i was reading this book if i hadn t had to read it for school, i would have waited until the other two books in the trilogy were published, so i could have had at them all at once, but again, school screws up my plans it s an amazingly quick read i was under the impression that i was supposed to have read it for yesterday s class so i zipped through it in a day and a half, which is way quicker than i read the known world, a less fun, and much shorter, book also for class this book is just vibrant it, too, is a sprawling narrative with a huge list of characters, but this one has pirates, and drugs and a man growing boobs, so it s familiar territory than slave owning, for me shortest review ever, i know you re welcome, dana but i have to get back to my stupid paper about collection development and somehow write at least 5 pages on a topic i feel i have already exhausted cliffs notes for this review it is fun and good read it.

  7. says:

    The title of this book is so spot on While an interesting cast of characters populated the story of opium from the empoverished villages of India, to the compromised users in China, with the movers and shakers of colonialism in between, only one element dictated the outcome, and that was poppies These happy little flowers invaded every single aspect of land, sea and all things alive, even innocent animals There was not a soul, psyche or physical body devoid of its impact in the nineteenth century.I started this book two years ago but set it aside for a time which promised me hours to proceed The initial dialects, or should it be called forms of English, demanded concentration, but it formed such an intricate part of the plot, since it was a world in one story, that I wanted to be prepared for the rest of the tale.And what a compassionate, gripping saga it turned out to be All the hours invested in this 500 pages was worth it Textured, colorful, atmospheric, picturesque, descriptive, gripping, holistic It is just a perfect historical fiction experience.However, after so much time spent in the lives of these intriguing characters, nobody wants to be left hanging at an abrupt, inconclusive cliffhanger ending And that s where it lost a star This book, as a stand alone could have been a perfect read Nevertheless, I already started the next book in this trilogy, so will catch up with my new family Just be forewarned You need to read all three.The author must be congratulated This is an exceptional piece of word art A masterpiece indeed.

  8. says:

    Sea of Poppies is an excellent and superb story of people thrown together in an adventure that will affect them all forever.

  9. says:

    A beautifully written historical novel about 1830 s India in the grip of the opium trade The characters are just as diverse as the British Empire itself, each with their own dialects and idiosyncracies, all brought together by the opium trade s many tentacled hands into the Ibis, on a voyage that will irrevocably changed them forever The author has obviously done a massive amount of research into the period, and this novel is so rich with details that it could veritably serve as an encyclopaedia of early 19th century Indian life, both at sea and on land However, this was never allowed to stifle the narrative, which deftly moves between a half dozen main characters and different settings with ease The novel is as chock full of exciting incidents as a door stopper 19th century adventure yarn, without abandoning a realism which makes it a compelling page turner The humorous episodes, largely supplied by the Falstaffian figure of Baboo Nob Kissin, enlivens the story between accounts of opium addiction, imprisonment and various corporal punishments.Ghosh s experiment with Anglo Indian dialects adds tremendously to the authenticity of the voices of the characters, although sometimes it could be rather distracting, especially in the earlier part of the story There is a glossary The Chrestomaty appended to the end of the book, which is quite useful to decipher the various lingos, but regretfully, not all of the words used is included Obviously, it would be helpful if all the words are included so that readers wouldn t miss any bit of dialogue.Probably Ghosh s best and most impressive work to date As this is said to be the first part of a projected trilogy, I ll be waiting with bated breath for the next installment.Write quickly , Mr Ghosh

  10. says:

    What an interesting and unusual read Sea Poppies is set in 1830 during the turbulent world of the the Opium trade.A large section of this book is set in India, with the final quarter being set on board a schooner called the Ibis The novel has a large cast of characters you could say too many at times We hear the stories of Zachary sailing from Boston to Calcutta in the Ibis, Raja Neel Rattan Halder s fall from grace, a French girl Paulette s unusual childhood growing up with a servant s child as her best friend, Deeti who is married to an opium addict in a small rural village and the wonderfully named Nob Kissin Pander a gomusta agent responsible for shipping migrants with his strange obsessions and physical transformation as well as many others.Eventually as their stories are told they board the Ibis, setting sail for Mauritius.The themes that interested me the most were the caste system in India, the harshness of the opium trade, British colonisation and the possibility of reinventing oneself if freed from social constraints There is drama, betrayal, a fall from grace, an attempt at Sati a wife joining her husband on his funeral pyre , storms at sea, depictions prison life, violence and adventure.The dialogue is amazing, it is colourful and whirls along with native words thrown carelessly into the sentences I feel that Amitav Ghosh is really having fun with the languages and the many colloquialisms he uses At the beginning I felt this slowed my reading pace but I soon settled into the writing This is the first book in the Ibis Trilogy and I m really looking forward to reading the next instalment