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“River of Smoke,” the second volume of his ambitious Ibis trilogy, is the It is clear that Ghosh is fascinated by the history of Canton and, within. River of Smoke has ratings and reviews. Arah-Lynda said: The absence of food doesn’t make a man forsake hunger – it only makes him hungrier . by Amitav Ghosh (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; $28) River of Smoke The second book in Ghosh’s Ibis trilogy is set in the eighteen-thirties, when.

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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh. In Septembera storm blows up on the Indian Ghsh and the Ibisa ship wmitav a consignment of convicts and indentured laborers from Calcutta to Mauritius, is caught up in the whirlwind. River of Smoke follows its storm-tossed characters to the crowded harbors of China.

There, despite efforts of the emperor to stop them, ships from Europe and India exchange their c In Septembera storm blows up on the Indian Ocean and the Ibisa ship carrying a consignment of convicts and indentured laborers from Calcutta to Mauritius, is caught or in the whirlwind. There, despite efforts of the emperor to stop them, ships from Europe and India exchange their cargoes of opium for boxes tea, silk, porcelain and silver.

Among them are Bahram Modi, a wealthy Parsi opium merchant out of Bombay, his estranged half-Chinese son Ah Fatt, the orphaned Paulette and a motley collection of others whose pursuit of romance, riches and a legendary rare flower have thrown together.

All struggle to cope with their losses—and for some, unimaginable freedoms—in the alleys and crowded waterways of 19th-century Canton. Hardcoverpages. Canton China Singapore Mauritius. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

To ask other readers questions about River of Smokeplease sign up. Do we have to read “sea of poppies’ before proceeding on to this one? Or can it be read as a standalone? Desertblues I would say: There is a certain level of mysticism in it which will be more difficult …more I would say: There is a certain level of mysticism in it which will be more difficult to understand when on has not read the first book of the trilogy.

When one has read the first book, I becomes more clear what the connection is between England, India and China. It is far more rewarding for the historical context as well. See 1 ghosj about River of Smoke….

Lists with This Book. May 29, Arah-Lynda rated it it was amazing Shelves: In this the second instalment of The Ibis trilogy Amitav Ghosh sets the bar incredibly high.

So high in fact I got a little dizzy from all the sights and sounds and smells that I was introduced to in so many of amita fascinating locals that lay painted in broad strokes before my very eyes. At that time foreigners were not permitted to enter Canton proper even though it relied heavily on foreign trade. In appearance Fanqui-town is not at all what you might expect; indeed it is so different from what I had envisioned that it fair took my breath away!

I had imagined the factories would be prettily primped with a few Celestial touches- perhaps a rived curling eaves or pagoda-like spires like those that so beguile the eyes in Chinese paintings.

You would see a row of buildings with columns, capitals, pilasters, tall windows and tiled roof. Some have colonnaded verandahs, with the same khus-khus screens you see in India: The colours are quite different though, brighter and more varied: Now that you have landed at Jackass Point and made your way into Fanqui town you may find yourself a little peckish. Fear not, Ghosh lays a lavish table guaranteed to whet your appetite.


Consider just this one offering of many at a feast served up by one of the foreign residents. Riiver had taken two days to prepare, and included some thirty condiments — crisp shoots of bamboo and slippery sea-cucumbers; chewy tendons of pork and juicy sea scallops; taro root and abalone; fish-lips and mushrooms — a symphony of carefully harmonized contrasts of texture and taste, it was reputed to have lured many a monk into breaking his vows.

The story is told mainly from the perspective of four foreigners, three rkver whom I was first introduced to in Sea of Poppies. But the opium trade is big business generating immense wealth for Rlver British merchants and others. After all China has always allowed and profited as well from this in the past ghosu the British are not inclined to desist trade now.

Ghosh may have left me completely drenched amitag clinging to the storm swept decks of the Ibis at the end of Sea of Poppies but all is now forgiven. Do not miss this sweeping, richly layered and historically accurate trilogy of the opium trade. On to a Flood of Fire. View all 14 comments. Aug 10, Megha rated it liked it Shelves: I am going to have to come back and fix may be rewrite this review later.

On the Ibisafter the storm, right? Amitav Ghosh picks up the threads from there, tells us about the different directions in which the characters were scattered and then we continue to follow Neel who brings us to Canton to witness the smok and politics surrounding the opium trade psst!

Canton’s foreign enclave was the hot-spot of trade between China and other countries. A huge amount of goods were imported from China, amiav much so that Chinese had come to believe that “. For foreigners, opium proved to be a highly profitable counter-trade product which ensured a two way flow of cash.

East India Companywith their strategic position in India monopolized this trade. Opium is the bone of contention at the heart of this story. Also, the high and mighty ones said: These require us to be subject, in the first instance, to our own laws.

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Amitav Ghosh carries amotav back to those times with his pure, un-ornamental storytelling. His writing is undoubtedly descriptive, no lawyer can make a case against that. He tells us smoe the times when Amtav was only a wilderness and when people thought that Singapore was going to be swallowed by a jungle.

Times when it took several months to travel from one place to another, keeping people away from home for a few years at a stretch most of them also ended up having a second wife and illegitimate children in distant lands. He gives us the details about how everything worked in those times.

He also brings out some of the subtleties about how language and social interactions changed as one moved from one part of the world to another and mingled with different kinds of communities. Between all the details, the dilemmas ghozh emotional complexity of Bahram, one of the main characters, are not forgotten either.

There is a whole lot of historical name-dropping going on too. Many of the characters mentioned in this novel and there are about a million of them were real people.

One can easily tell Ghosh has done extensive research and poured gallons of history in this story. For the most part, the s,oke aren’t wearisome and don’t slow down the narrative.


The only place where detailed descriptions bothered me were in Robin Chinnery’s letters.

River of Smoke – Wikipedia

Him being an artist, his letters provide a perspective different from that of people involved in the opium trade. But, phew, those letters! Some of his letters went like this: So one day I was sitting on my desk when I heard a knock on the door. And within that conversation the news of interest will be embedded.

I know the messages were not limited to characters back then, but will you give me the news already?! If you enjoyed Sea of Poppiesthis is definitely worth a read. It can be read even if one has not read the first part. The language, a mash-up of different dialects, may seem bothersome during initial one or two chapters, but in later chapters it is mostly just English and is not at all difficult to read. If you have an appetite for rich details, this should be an interesting read.

He created an ensemble cast with a rich variety of characters, made their paths converge to the ship Ibis and spun out an engrossing story. The hypnotic spell broke. The stage vanished and so did the characters. The readers were left bobbing in the ocean. Now after a gap of over 2. Hopefully we will get to the shore this time. Though this is only the second book in the proposed trilogy, who knows where he will leave us stranded now.

Considering how long Ghosh Babu had the readers sitting on the edge, this better not be a disappointment.

View all 12 comments. Jun 09, Doug Bradshaw rated it it was amazing. Perhaps the most amazing, brilliant historical fiction I have ever read.

I’ve dabbled a little bit with writing, taken a few classes in college and I’ve read, surely over a thousand books. But I think I admire this book over anything I’ve ever read thus far and I finally realize, good grief, Doug, don’t try to write any more. You don’t have what it takes!

Amitav Ghosh : River of Smoke

Here is painstaking research, wonderful characterizations of people some ghoh whom actually lived and every aspect of their personalities and Perhaps the most amazing, brilliant historical fiction I have ever read. Here is painstaking oc, wonderful characterizations of people some of whom actually lived and every aspect of their personalities and done in the setting of Canton, China in the ‘s.

This is a follow up book in a trilogy, the first of which was also excellent, “Sea of Poppies” and several of the characters of that book appear in this, but it is a different book and story stands on its own, although it was fun to see a little bit of follow up on some of the lives of some of the characters.

This is the story of the world of opium sales in China and eiver ruination of millions of people addicted to the powerful drug and how the government tries to eradicate the importing of the drug through primarily British sources, although one of the main characters is from Bombay and most of the product is produced in India. It is extremely annoying to discover how the Amihav businessmen justify their smuggling killing actions by giving self righteous sermons about the God given principal of “free trade” and how the Chinese Government has no authority to stop them.