The Shadow Lines
Opening in Calcutta in the 1960s, Ghosh’s radiant second novel follows two families-one English, one Bengali-as their lives intertwine in tragic and comic ways. The narrator, Indian-born and English educated, traces events back and forth in time, through years of Bengali partition and violence, observing the ways in which political events invade private lives. The Shadow L...more
The return of this asymmetrical Saturday was one of those little events, internal, local, almost civic, which, in peaceful lives and closed societies, create a sort of national bond and become the favorite theme of conversations, jokes, stories wantonly exaggerated: it would have been the ready-made nucleus for a cycle of legends, if one of us had had an epic turn of mind.
~ Marcel Proust
The Shadow Lines of History (& Geography)
It is said that childhood is the font of all stories. No story...more
The book collapses time and space, placing events from different times and places next to each other. The narrator goes from his experience as a little boy in India to London both through the stories of his uncle and his own experience there as a student. From this narrative structure emerges a powerful message.
For Ghosh, the wo...more
On its surface, Shady Lines is about two families – one English and one Bengali – whose lives have been intertwined for three generations. The unnamed narrator, Indian born and English educated, has grown up with the stories of his uncle, Tridib. It is through these seemingly unrelated stories that the larger picture slowly unfold until, eventually, you realize that they are all culminating in a single, tragic event that impacts both families.
There are some books that are difficult to review. Their pages open up to spill a mixed bag of emotions and self-contained little worlds onto your lap. As the pages whirl by, boundaries blur. And the worlds, with their bags of emotions, seep into your veins, absorbed into the sponge of your sub-conscious.
That's when you realize the book is now a part of you - that there was something so compatible between your mind, your feelings and the book that there are no separate entities now.
And you bec...more
This is a book that you will want to read in one sitting. I didn't, but I wish that I had. The book follows the memories of the narrator, and like...more
I really wanted to like this book. There are some great observations from a child's point of view. There are also some real sentiments from the elderly grandmother teacher. But...
I easily put this book down to watch tv, talk to my cat, tweeze my eye brows or anything else. The narrator /main character tells his story in a haphazard fashion, not stream of consciousness. Either I couldn't follow him or I didn't care enough to try.
I thought it would be nice to read about a middle class Indian for...more
The narrator is an Indian born boy, who traces back past events through his cousin Tridib's experiences and stories. The family relationships in the narrator's surroundings are divided into a triangular shape; His own Indian family, an...more
At one level it is an excellent and path-breaking critique of the concept of Nation-State and Freedom, and at another it is a novel that will amaze you with its chilling, poignant and intriguing story and an even better telling.
It successfully shows you how the world is nothing but a map with imaginary and moreover vain lines, and that t...more
It would not be enough to say we were afraid: we were stupefied with fear.
That particular fear has a texture you can neither forget nor describe. It is like the fear of the victims of an earthquake, of people who have lost faith in the stillness of the earth. And yet it is not the same. It is without analogy, for it is not comparable to the fear of nature, which is the most universal of human fears, nor to the fear of the violence of the state, which is the commonest of modern fears. It is a fea...more
I think it is an excellent, beautifully written, account of an extended family based in Calcutta, with cultural roots in India and England. Told through the eyes of the eleven year old protagonist, the narrative shifts seamlessly back and forth between the years 19...more
It's about a Bengali extended family in Calcutta (a good dozen characters with many more on the fringes), centering on the life story of one man who loses a cousin to sudden and mysterious ethnic violence. The whole thing is tied together by the fact that this cousin is himself a mysterious, fascinating, erudite, and compassionate person, who always has a story or an insi...more
"It startles me now to discover how readily the name comes off my pen as 'Mayadebi' for I have nover spoken of her thus; not aloud, at any rate: as my g...more
Don't read the spoiler until you've read the book, it'll reduce the impact of the book. (view spoiler)[The ending was not foreshadowed until about 2/3(?) of the way through, at least to me. If you know the ending you could probably tell earlier. Up to that point it seemed to be a remembrance of growing up in India and Engla...more
Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta in 1956. He studied in Dehra Dun, New Delhi, Alexan...more