Saturday, May 14, 2016

Amitav Ghosh : The Hungry Tide

Well, it took several years, but I finally finished Amitav Ghosh's suite of books in the Ibis Trilogy. The Hungry Tide is the third in the series and I was fortunate to find it, accidentally, in a used book store in Fairbanks, Alaska, last September. I had forgotten about the trilogy until I saw the book, which I got for the cut-rate price of $3.99.

The Hungry Tide is set in the Sundarban region of West Bengal, where the dis-tributaries of many rivers create an archipelago of islands. The region is still wild to this day and is one of the few places where the Bengal tiger is free to live.

The story is about a young Indian-American, Piya, who is a PhD researcher of river dolphins. She makes her way to the Sundarban with the assistance of Kanai, an aging bachelor who runs a successful translation business in New Delphi and whom she met on a train. Kanai has an aunt in Lusibari, the fictional main town in the Sundarban region and Piya eventually makes her way there for a visit, to be hosted by the auntie.

As with all of his books, Ghosh has done his research and I found myself grabbing either an atlas, or else going online, to look at maps and history of the region. Most of the places he talks about are real, and only Lusibari and one river are invented, if I remember correctly. One true event that he put dead center into the plot was the massacre of squatter-settlers at Morichjhapi. I will not spoil the plot for you.

As before, Amitav has kindled an interest in a place that I have never visited and never will visit, unfortuately. He remains at the top of my list of writers making Asia easy and accessible to me.