At the heart of this vibrant saga is a vast ship, the Ibis. Its destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean; its purpose, to fight China’s vicious nineteenth-century Opium Wars. As for the crew, they are a motley array of sailors and stowaways, coolies and convicts.
In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a diverse cast of Indians and Westerners, from a bankrupt raja to a widowed tribeswoman, from a mulatto American freedman to a freespirited French orphan. As their old family ties are washed away, they, like their historical counterparts, come to view themselves as jahaj-bhais, or ship-brothers. An unlikely dynasty is born, which will span continents, races, and generations.
Pages: 528 (hardback)
Publisher: Published October 14th 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Rating: 10 out of 10
Source: Checked out of the library multiple times
Date Completed: August 23, 2013
As part of my constant enthusiasm for reading challenges, I signed up again for the Chunkster Reading Challenge this year and was excited for the new addition of a book club. One of the selections for this year was Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh. I am about four months late with my participation, but I wanted to answer the questions posed on the challenge website. My short responses are below. Because of limited time and energy, I am not answering all of the questions.
Overall, I really loved the book. Initially the characters were hard to keep track of, but once they were all on the ship, the story took off. My favorite character was Deeti and I loved how so many scenes covered a variety of topics including social conventions, class, caste, colonialism, racism, and romance.
- Have you read anything by this author before? If so what have you read and how does it compare to Sea of Poppies? I have not read anything by the author before.
- How does class and the caste system impact the relationships between the characters? A lot of the interactions were dictated by social norms. The characters did not seem to have genuine connection until they were on the ship where many conventions disappeared. However, even on the ship, there was a class and caste system in place.
- How are women's roles different from men's in Sea of Poppies? What common ground do Deeti, Paulette, and Munia share? This question requires a much longer response than I am able to provide now. The gender functions play a huge part of women's decision making in the book. In thinking about their lives, all of the female characters struggle with how to go outside the norm while being a woman. All three, Deeti, Paulette, and Munia are taking a scary journey for the chance to start over. As the journey continues, they bond with each other and share stories of themselves that reflect a new reality.
- Many of the lives Ghosh depicts are shaped by social and political forces beyond their control. What are some of these forces? Describe some of the individual acts of bravery, defiance, or deception that enable his characters to break free from what they see as their fate. Another heavy question which I will only answer partially. Some of the larger forces in play are colonialism and imperialism.
- How does the opium trade industry compare to modern-day drug trafficking versus the pharmaceutical industry? I am going to skip.
- There are two more novels in the trilogy. Do you have plans to read either of them? Both of them? Yes, I hope to read both of them
I am counting the book for the following challenges;