Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh (2001. 598 pages)

My thanks to Max u for the provision of an Amazon Gift Card which allowed me to acquire this book. 

A few years ago I read, really liked and posted upon  the first two installments of Amitav Ghosh's Ibis Trilogy, The Sea of Poppies and The River of Smoke.  The final book in the trilogy Flood of Fire  came out earlier this year.  I want to read it for sure but I will wait until the price drops from $14.95, which is too high for an E Book of a novel.

I did not really have any plans concerning reading more of the works of Ghosh until I received notice that his set in Burma historical novel, The Glass Palace,  covering the period around 1890 to 1990 was temporarily marked down from $11.95 to $1.95.  I like historical fiction set in South and South East Asia and I felt this would be a good book so I acquired it.  I was right.  It certainly was.

The book reminded me of the just published masterwork by Anne Proux, Barkskin in that it is very much about the logging industry, in this case Burmese teak, and is a multi-generational family saga.  As the story opens, our lead character is a deck hand on a riverboat.  The boat is badly damaged and the young man, maybe fiveteen, is told to go ashore and find work for the thirty days it takes to repair the boat.  He is an Indian, looked down upon by many Burmese and is directed to a food shop of an Indian lady who hires him and gives him a place to live.  He decides to stay on and he meets a man who will change his life and play a big role in his future.  He will become the father he never had. 

There is a lot of very interesting material in The Glass Palace about the teak logging industry.  In one fascinating and quite gruesome section we learn how anthrax impacts and ultimately kills elephants. Moving the huge logs down river is hard dangerous work.  

We learn a good bit about the Burmese royal family, displaced by the British and sent into exhile in India when the British take over.  

India soldiers serving in the British army play a big role in the story.  Indians see this as a mark of family honor but the Burmese see them as contemible slaves set to be kill for the English.

There are a lot of personal entanglements and romances in the novel, sometimes they worked, sometimes they did not.

The segments involving war against the Japanese were very exciting.  

If you like first rate historical fiction, especially set in the Indian Subcontinent, then I 
 endorse this book.especially if you can get it for $1.95.  

Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He studied in Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria and is the author of The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique LandDancing in CambodiaThe Calcutta ChromosomeThe Glass PalaceThe Hungry Tide, and the first two volumes of The Ibis TrilogySea of Poppies, and River of Smoke.

The Circle of Reason was awarded France’s Prix Médicis in 1990, and The Shadow Lines won two prestigious Indian prizes the same year, the Sahitya Akademi Award and the Ananda Puraskar. The Calcutta Chromosome won the Arthur C. Clarke award for 1997 and The Glass Palace won the International e-Book Award at the Frankfurt book fair in 2001. In January 2005 The Hungry Tide was awarded the Crossword Book Prize, a major Indian award. His novel, Sea of Poppies (2008) was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, 2008 and was awarded the Crossword Book Prize and the India Plaza Golden Quill Award. 

Amitav Ghosh’s work has been translated into more than twenty languages and he has served on the Jury of the Locarno Film Festival (Switzerland) and the Venice Film Festival (2001). Amitav Ghosh’s essays have been published in The New YorkerThe New Republic and The New York Times. His essays have been published by Penguin India (The Imam and the Indian) and Houghton Mifflin USA (Incendiary Circumstances). He has taught in many universities in India and the USA, including Delhi University, Columbia, Queens College and Harvard.  In January 2007 he was awarded the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest honours, by the President of India. In 2010, Amitav Ghosh was awarded honorary doctorates by Queens College, New York, and the Sorbonne, Paris. Along with Margaret Atwood, he was also a joint winner of a Dan David Award for 2010. In 2011 he was awarded the International Grand Prix of the Blue Metropolis Festival in Montreal.   From 

Mel u

1 comment:

Terra said...

I haven't read any of Ghosh's books and will keep this one in mind.