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Sunday, August 21, 2011

The monkey, with his hand caught in the pot..

Just struggled through Amitav Ghosh's "River of Smoke".
Struggled because it is close to unreadable.
There is no central character, there are too many sub-plots, too many references to past events , and finally, too much of creole and pidgin English, and one really has to have Hobson Jobson's dictionary to make sense of some words...
And why has this happened?
Because Mr. Ghosh has swallowed a million dollar advance to cough out a trilogy, and he is forcing himself to do it, even when the urge to create is not there.
That's the problem, when the greed for dollars overwhelms the creative faculties of writers.
So, readers have coughed out five hundred bucks( it is already available at a discount over its cover price of 699 rupees, by the way) to read trash.
Unlike books of Amitav's like "A Hungry Tide" or "Calcutta Chromosome", which were tightly written around a single character, and fast paced, this book is a ramble through an entire era of history, mainly the time before the Opium Wars, and Amitav does not able to seem to make up his mind on which character to follow, and so ends up following all of them.
Wish he had tackled more modest subjects, in a less grandiose way.
But, then, he would not have justified that million dollar advance, would he??

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