Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sea of Poppies : Two readers

I have just finished Sea of Poppies and am on a high, the euphoric state that occurs when I have read a masterpiece for that is what this book is. It is perfection. And I am so glad to read that this is the first of a trilogy on which he is working already.

A sweeping, complex narrative, a large cast of characters and the most extraordinary use of language, combining 19th century Anglo-Indian with Bhojpuri, Bengali and Hindi with no concessions to Western readers. It is gripping stuff and I was mesmerised, eyes transfixed on the page. The story telling is so masterly without any hiccups or laboured prose, it carries one away as on the crest of a wave.

The last time I felt like this was on completing Midnight's Children in '81 just before the Booker Prize was announced and I did a victory dance in front of the telly and went to see Rushdie two days later. One could do that then!

I still haven't read In An Antique Land but will do so now. I am hooked.

I have no interest in Amitav Ghosh and his writing. I had only read Shadow Lines. I don't consider his writing to be literature. He works hard on his books, especially in terms of research. But that does not amount to literature. Besides, in the context of Indian apartheid and the opportunistic duplicity of writers, Ghosh included, I have no interest whatsoever in their output.

People like Ghosh write, an elaborate artifice, precisely to produce the kind of reaction you felt. But it has nothing to do with India. It does'nt come from there nor does it go there. And most of all, not only does it not contribute an iota to change in the apartheid situation, it only reinforces the charmed narcissism of the English-reading class.

(Source: my inbox. Names withdrawn because I've not sought their permission. My apologies.)

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