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Reviews of The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh

The Hungry Tide

A Novel

by Amitav Ghosh

The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh X
The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh
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  • First Published:
    May 2005, 352 pages

    Paperback:
    Jun 2006, 352 pages

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Book Summary

A prophetic novel of remarkable insight, beauty, and humanity set in the Sundarbans, an immense labyrinth of tiny islands on the easternmost coast of India.

The Hungry Tide is a very contemporary story of adventure and unlikely love, identity and history, set in one of the most fascinating regions on the earth. Off the easternmost coast of India, in the Bay of Bengal, lies the immense labyrinth of tiny islands known as the Sundarbans.

For settlers here, life is extremely precarious. Attacks by deadly tigers are common. Unrest and eviction are constant threats. Without warning, at any time, tidal floods rise and surge over the land, leaving devastation in their wake. In this place of vengeful beauty, the lives of three people from different worlds collide. Piya Roy is a young marine biologist, of Indian descent but stubbornly American, in search of a rare, endangered river dolphin.

Her journey begins with a disaster, when she is thrown from a boat into crocodile-infested waters. Rescue comes in the form of a young, illiterate fisherman, Fokir. Although they have no language between them, Piya and Fokir are powerfully drawn to each other, sharing an uncanny instinct for the ways of the sea. Piya engages Fokir to help with her research and finds a translator in Kanai Dutt, a businessman from Delhi whose idealistic aunt and uncle are longtime settlers in the Sundarbans.

As the three of them launch into the elaborate backwaters, they are drawn unawares into the hidden undercurrents of this isolated world, where political turmoil exacts a personal toll that is every bit as powerful as the ravaging tide. Already an international success, The Hungry Tide is a prophetic novel of remarkable insight, beauty, and humanity.

The Tide Country

Kanai spotted her the moment he stepped onto the crowded platform: he was deceived neither by her close-cropped black hair nor by her clothes, which were those of a teenage boy — loose cotton pants and an oversized white shirt. Winding unerringly through the snack vendors and tea sellers who were hawking their wares on the station’s platform, his eyes settled on her slim, shapely figure. Her face was long and narrow, with an elegance of line markedly at odds with the severity of her haircut. There was no bindi on her forehead and her arms were free of bangles and bracelets, but on one of her ears was a silver stud, glinting brightly against the sun-deepened darkness of her skin.

Kanai liked to think that he had the true connoisseur’s ability to both praise and appraise women, and he was intrigued by the way she held herself, by the unaccustomed delineation of her stance. It occurred to him suddenly that perhaps, despite her ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

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Amitav Ghosh, the author of 4 previous novels including The Glass Palace (which you'll find at BookBrowse) spent four years researching this book, including living in a small village in the Sundarbans for some weeks. It's a gorgeous book that works on a number of levels - part love story, part political history and part meticulously researched environmental study. As Publishers Weekly puts it, 'One doesn't so much read Ghosh's masterful fifth novel as inhabit his characters and the alluring if treacherous Sundarban archipelago.' The Sundarbans describe the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers on the Bay of Bengal, some of which is in India but mostly in Bangladesh. The area, which has been designated a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve, is intersected by a complex network of tidal waterways, mudflats and small islands of salt-tolerant mangrove forests, with a wide variety of native fauna including 260 bird species, Bengal tigers, estuarine crocodiles and Indian pythons, and about 4 million humans. A century ago a wealthy Scot attempted to set up a Marxist-style utopia on one of the flood-plagued islands. Ghosh's uncle was a teacher and manager in the project, and this family history became the starting point for his research. For more about the Sundarbans see the sidebar...continued

Full Review (235 words)

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Media Reviews

Biblio - Supriya Choudhuri
I think one of the greatest compliments one could pay Amitav Ghosh and his novel is to say that it is true to many experiences not contained in it. It offers the sense of a place whose history, partly known, partly guessed at, can illuminate the ways in which human beings have lived on this earth and made use of its fruits.

The Age (Australia)
Ghosh is a seductive writer and master, not only of realistic description but of the mot juste, a cause of endless pleasure for the reader....This is a reassuringly civilised book in which wisdom is embedded and the representation of experience is, for once, deeply satisfying.

The Japan Times
"The Hungry Tide" is an elegantly written and highly informative volume that beautifully evokes a little-known part of the world.

Booklist - Donna Seaman (starred review)
Through his characters' very different mind-sets, Ghosh posits urgent questions about humankind's place in nature in an atmospheric and suspenseful drama of love and survival that has particular resonance in the aftermath of the December 2004 tsunami.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
One doesn't so much read Ghosh's masterful fifth novel as inhabit his characters and the alluring if treacherous Sundarban archipelago.

Kirkus Reviews
...The result is a fascinating tapestry, in which idealistic motives and carefully preserved secrets alike are vulnerable to a world of various predators....A bit bumpy; still, overall, Ghosh's fifth is one of his most interesting.

Reader Reviews

Yonstan

A Picturesque travel
The book is fascinating and picturesque. It brought alive the island of Sundarbans and I enjoyed the travel, meeting the most idealistic lovers – Piya and Fokir. The language is awesome and refreshing. It enriches the readers with delightful ...   Read More
Chitral Chatterjee

You are truly an inspiring writer!
I feel extremely privileged to be able to write a book review on your beautiful creation.......your book has served as a mirror for the many inhabitants of Sunderbans - The TIde Country as you would put it.....it has reflected every aspect of the ...   Read More
varsha

how does the writer describe the sunderbans
The narrative is a fine piece of prose with the beauty and elegance of a poem which is evocative in character. He concludes the piece with the quotes from "The Tenth Elegy of Rainer Maria Rilike". It is a elegy on the death of something precious and...   Read More
David Behera

Genius lying in simplicity
Amitav Ghosh's characters are someone that everyone can relate to; like an alter ego, every individual reader would identify him or herself with any of these simple yet hauntingly evoking people. The narrative is tight and fluid. While the ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The estuarine delta of the Sundarbans is a harsh area prone to natural disasters, such as the cyclone in 1970 which killed 300,000 people. During 'normal' cyclones the mangrove swamps absorb much of the first shock which is why the people of the area do not build close to the sea.

Despite this a business group have ambitious plans to build an enormous tourism complex in the region, with everything from 'virgin beaches' to shopping centers, restaurants and mini-golf courses.

As ...

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