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River of Smoke

A Novel

River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh
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A Washington Post Notable Fiction Book for 2011

The Ibis, loaded to its gunwales with a cargo of indentured servants, is in the grip of a cyclone in the Bay of Bengal; among the dozens flailing for survival are Neel, the pampered raja who has been convicted of embezzlement; Paulette, the French orphan masquerading as a deck-hand; and Deeti, the widowed poppy grower fleeing her homeland with her lover, Kalua.

The storm also threatens the clipper ship Anahita, groaning with the largest consignment of opium ever to leave India for Canton. And the Redruth, a nursery ship, carries Frederick "Fitcher" Penrose, a horticulturist determined to track down the priceless treasures of China that are hidden in plain sight: its plants that have the power to heal, or beautify, or intoxicate. All will converge in Canton's Fanqui-town, or Foreign Enclave: a tumultuous world unto itself where civilizations clash and sometimes fuse. It is a powder keg awaiting a spark to ignite the Opium Wars.

Spectacular coincidences, startling reversals of fortune, and tender love stories abound. But this is much more than an irresistible page-turner. The blind quest for money, the primacy of the drug trade, the concealment of base impulses behind the rhetoric of freedom: in River of Smoke the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries converge, and the result is a consuming historical novel with powerful contemporary resonance. Critics praised Sea of Poppies for its vibrant storytelling, antic humor, and rich narrative scope; now Amitav Ghosh continues the epic that has charmed and compelled readers all over the globe.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux; September 2011
528 pages; ISBN 9781429969178
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Title: River of Smoke
Author: Amitav Ghosh
  • News
Penguin acquires three new books by Amitav Ghosh - Odisha Samaya
Mon, 12 Sep 2016 05:59:11 -0700
Odisha SamayaPenguin acquires three new books by Amitav GhoshOdisha SamayaThree books, including two new non fiction works and ...
Amitav Ghosh trails history for new book on India and China -
Thu, 01 Sep 2016 19:55:00 -0700
Amitav Ghosh trails history for new book on India and ChinaEastDay.comEnding with Flood of Fire, the trilogy follows the voyage ...
The climate of change -
Thu, 18 Aug 2016 06:08:00 -0700
gulfnews.comThe climate of changegulfnews.comAcclaimed Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh recently attended Mountain Echoes, the ...