Friday, July 15, 2011

Amitav Ghosh

“Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.” (William Shakespeare. Twelfth Night, Act II, Scene V).

And how would rank Amitav Ghosh?

His new book, the second part of the so called Ibis trilogy, ‘River of Smoke’ is out and it’s already a masterpiece. It’s rarely that you see a book so universally appreciated. Every review I have read so far, speaks glowingly about the book. In short, it’s an unadulterated masterpiece. How did Ghosh achieve it?

You have to give it to Ghosh. He deserves the praise. He has earned it, unlike so many other writers who achieve fame for reasons other than their writing and then fade away.

Ghosh has been there for a long time, and rising up the ranks steadily.

I don’t know, but for me his masterpiece remains ‘The Shadow Lines.’ Perhaps because it was the first work of his I had read. The book had everything figured out and everything was perfectly in place. And, I loved the Tridib character.

Now, when I think about it, I realise that I loved that book, because it reminded me of all the Bengali books I had read in my childhood, from Ashapurna Devi to Gajendra Mitra and everyone in between, Banaphul, Sharadindu, who else, Shankar, Bibhutibhusan, Sunil Ganguly... so many names I have forgotten...

Ghosh has that rare skill, to evoke the greatness of Bengali fiction in English, without sounding trite, without losing the touch. The language is just a medium; it should never hinder the narrative.

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