Packing a wildly varied cast of characters and all of their
stories on board a ship and expecting it to stay afloat through 500 pages seems
a dangerous proposition for a novel. With Sea of Poppies, Amitav Ghosh
proves it can also be a brilliant one. In a thoroughly enjoyable blend of
historical fiction, comedy of manners, linguistic play, and socio-political
underpinnings, the Ibis becomes its own sea-borne universe populated by
travelers cut off from the past, trapped and set free all at once by total
A fallen Raja; the son of a freed American slave and her white owner; a French orphan girl disguised as a man and seeking her heritage; the widow of an opium addict and indentured poppy grower; a mysterious prisoner; and dozens of others converge on the ship's decks as sailors, servants, laborers, spiritual seekers, and stowaways. Soon, men and women who...
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