Amitav Ghosh receives Jnanpith Award: A look at his best bookshttps://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/books/amitav-ghosh-jnanpith-award-best-books-to-read-5776410/

Amitav Ghosh receives Jnanpith Award: A look at his best books

Amitav Ghosh, who spent his formative years in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and studied in Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria, is known for creating rich literature out of the blind spots of history.

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Amitav Ghosh is the first Indian writer in English to have been chosen for the 54th Jnanpith Award. (Source: File Photo)

One of India’s leading contemporary English writers, Amitav Ghosh, has been honoured with 2018’s Jnanpith Award, a literary recognition given to an author for “outstanding contribution towards literature”. The author received the award from former Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi at a function in New Delhi on June 12.

Born in Kolkata, Ghosh who spent his formative years in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka has studied in Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria. He has earlier won the Sahitya Akademi Award for his much-loved novel, The Shadow Lines (1988).

Here are some must-read books by the author, who is the first Indian writer in English to have been chosen for the 54th Jnanpith Award honour.

The Circle of Reason (1986)

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The novel has both historical as well as mythological elements. (Source: Amazon.in)

Ghosh’s debut novel, The Circle of Reason revolves around Alu, an orphan, whose journey spans across many years and continents. Alu’s foster father enlists him as a soldier to fight against the forces, but he is soon suspected of terrorism and is being forced to run away from his village. He travels from Calcutta to Goa and boards a fishing trawler that illegally ships immigrants to Africa, while being chased by a police officer all this while. The novel has historical as well as mythological elements, and Ghosh won the Prix Medici Etranger Award for this book.

Available at: Amazon.in
Price: Rs 324 (paperback)

The Shadow Lines (1988)

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The Shadow Lines is a Sahitya Akademi Award-winning novel. (Source: Amazon.in)

Set against the backdrop of historical events like the Swadeshi movement, Second World War, Partition of India and communal riots of 1963-64 in Dhaka and Calcutta, The Shadow Lines is a funny yet moving story of a young boy who travels across time and boundaries, through the memories and tales of people around him. The book’s blurb reads, ‘Exposing the idea of the nation-state as an illusion, an arbitrary dissection of people, Ghosh depicts the absurd manner in which your home can suddenly become your enemy’.

Available at: Amazon.in
Price: Rs 180 (paperback)

The Calcutta Chromosome (1996)

The medical thriller navigates through time to begin in the future and follows the protagonist, L. Murugan, who is in search of what he calls the ‘Calcutta Chromosome’. A must-read for those looking for a classic read depicting the amalgamation of the Victorian era and contemporary India.

Available at: Amazon.in
Price: Rs 299 (paperback)

The Hungry Tide (2004)

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The Marichjhapi Massacre incident of 1978-79 forms the background of The Hungry Tide. (Source: Amazon.com)

Set in Sundarbans, this fiction revolves around Piyali Roy, who has Indian parents but an American upbringing, and Kanai Dutt, a businessman from Delhi. Fate makes the two meet in Sunderbans, which in turn threatens the future of this untouched territory where settlers live in fear of drowning tides and man-eating tigers. The Marichjhapi Massacre incident of 1978-79, when West Bengal government forcibly evicted thousands of Bengali refugees who had settled on the island, forms the background for some parts of the novel. It won the 2004 Hutch Crossword Book Award for Fiction.

Available at: Amazon.in
Price: Rs 319 (paperback)

Sea of Poppies (2008)

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The Sea of Poppies was shortlisted for the 2008 Man Booker Prize. (Source: Amazon.in)

First in the Ibis trilogy, the book is based on a bunch of sailors, convicts and coolies who are sailing down the Hooghly on their way to Mauritius aboard the Ibis. During their journey, their equations change to that of ‘ship brothers’ as they dream of a future of new lives built on remote islands. The name of the novel stems from the characters who seem as poppy seeds emanating in large numbers from the field to form a sea, where every single seed is uncertain about its future. It was shortlisted for the 2008 Man Booker Prize.

Available at: Amazon.in
Price: Rs 280 (paperback)

The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (2016)

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The non-fiction explores the history of the carbon economy. (Source: Amazon.in)

Ghosh shares his thoughts about climate change and how future generations might think of the present generation as deranged in the book. As per the book’s blurb, in this non-fiction work, the author ‘examines our inability at the level of literature, history and politics to grasp the scale and violence of climate change’. He shows that the history of the carbon economy is a tangled global story with many contradictory and counter intuitive elements.

Available at: Amazon.in
Price: Rs 218 (paperback)