‘Rich and panoramic, Amitav Ghosh’s latest novel—the first of a promised trilogy—sees this Indian author on masterly form. Set in 1838, just before the opium wars between Britain and China, “Sea of Poppies” is a sprawling adventure with a cast of hundreds and numerous intricate stories encompassing poverty and riches, despair and hope, and the long-fingered reach of the opium trade. At the book’s heart lies the Ibis, a former slave ship, bound from Calcutta to Mauritius. As the story progresses, the vessel becomes home to a diverse set of migrants, each drawn with an assuredly descriptive hand (…)
The only flaw in “Sea of Poppies” is that as the introduction to the trilogy it ends rather abruptly. The readers who have been hooked by the adventures of the jahaj-bhais will have to wait until 2010, when the second instalment is due to be published, to meet them once more.’
Note added 12 Aug 08:
I have now reviewed SEA OF POPPIES, comparing it (favourably) with Rushdie’s THE ENCHANTRESS OF FLORENCE – see blog entry for 2 Aug 08.
See also two very interesting pieces by PRIYAMVADA GOPAL: