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The Hungry Tide

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  6,949 ratings  ·  574 reviews
Off the easternmost coast of India lies the immense archipelago of tiny islands known as the Sundarbans. Life here is precarious, ruled by the unforgiving tides and the constant threat of attack by Bengal tigers. Into this place of vengeful beauty come two seekers from different worlds, whose lives collide with tragic consequences.

The settlers of the remote Sundarbans beli...more
Published (first published 2004)
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Foodie
If Shadow Lines enthralled you, Amitav Ghosh's latest masterpiece, the Hungry Tide, will sweep you off your feet, and into the precarious waters of the Sundarbans.In the typical Ghosh style, the narrative moves fluidly between past and present. You will be transported into the mindset of the superstitious yet brave folk, who have adapted themselves to the constant ebb and flow of the tide and are living in continuous fear of the Bengal tigers. The tide begins to turn with the advent of two seeke...more
Jessica
I picked this up on whim when I was in City Lights in SF. This is a story about an American-born Indian researcher who returns to her ancestral Bengal to study river dolphins in the Sundarbans. Three stars for the unbelievable descriptions of the world's biggest mangrove forest and its denizens (crabs, bengal tigers, and of course, river dolphins) and for using the story to explore conflicts between poverty and environmentalism. Negative points for the overly stereotyped and underdeveloped chara...more
Stephen
I have mixed feelings about "The Hungry Tide." Amitav Ghosh tells a large story firmly set in a particular place--the Mangrove-covered islands in the estuary of the Ganges River. The story has everything: love, class-difference, political conflict, natural and man-made catastrophes, and, of course, dolphins, tigers, and crocodiles (dangerous encounters with the latter two, friendly encounters with the first). And that's the problem. The story is contrived and contains dialogue that frequently do...more
Tanuj Solanki
Supremely disappointing, considering the start it had.

In the first few chapters Ghosh takes ample time with his two main characters. Their histories and inner lives intermingle well. The plot too advances with a decent pace. But then two things overpower his novel

(1) The desire to be inventive
(2) Sobering down to elongated, unreal conversations when not being inventive.

Ghosh's inventive side gives us a plethora of side stories, some provided as the journal of a dead man, others as mere myths...more
Animesh
Amitav Ghosh, the author of The Circle of Reason and The Shadow Lines, weaves a complex fabric with some of the fundamentals of the deepest corners of our mind: the animistic instinct, the urge to discover, and the magnetism of finding one's roots. All this woven against a primitive landscape of water and silt, time set against tidal surges and mangrove forest, a flat land low against a stormy sky in the Bengal delta, a place that Ghosh brings alive with the apparent deftness of long familiarity...more
Jane
... this guy is such a terrible writer, I don't know why I bother. Full review once I finish this abominable page-turner...

OK, done: I really can't bear Gosh's style, the dialogue is completely implausible, with nearly every character speaking as though they're declaiming to the wind. He has an unnecessarily high adjective count, and he just generally annoys me. On the upside, this book does some nice stuff with structure, pulling different characters' points of view together quite well. And the...more
Sreelekha Menon
Set amidst the lush foliage of mangrove forests, The Hungry Tide tells us about the history and lives of people who inhabit the numerous islands of Sunderbans in the Bay of Bengal, the river dolphins, the man eater tigers of the tide country, the sea and the legends that float in these waters and forests. It reminds us of the fragility of human life and the helplessness that comes with it.

Story revolves around American born Bengali descent, Piyali Roy a.ka. Piya, a cetologist who comes to India...more
Mamta
It was an interesting but not a phenomenal, and in some part, even a disappointing read. The characters could have been fleshed out far far more.....it was almost as if the language barrier kept even the reader from understanding Fokir to any measurable depth. The relationships between the various characters were left largely unexplored. I wish that the human interactions/histories had been dealt with the same passion as the geology of the Sunderbans. The storms that shaped the lives of the peop...more
The Super Moop
This particular four out of five is a qualified four out of five. I certainly did "really like it", as far as the scale for grading these things goes, but, for all that, this book's limitations stand out sharply amongst its many qualities, and I'm not convinced that my own enjoyment of it automatically translates into a wholehearted recommendation.

The bits that grate, then:

Having arrived at this directly from the self-assured Sea of Poppies, I found, to my surprise, that Mr.Ghosh's writing for l...more
Palmyrah
I'm sorry to say I could not finish this. I got about a third of the way through. I greatly enjoyed The Calcutta Chromosome and Sea of Poppies and have liked other books by this author, more or less, but this was unbearable. The setting is squalid and hellish, an island half-drowned in the mud of the Ganges delta. The characters did not interest me, and a developing romance between an Indian-American marine biologist and a Bengali fisherman seemed preposterously unlikely, although in fairness I...more
Catherine Adde
The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh

This story has such an astonishing, heart-tugging ending, that I wish I had the time to read it again! What intrigued me about it is the setting: the Sundarbans, a group of thousands of islands in the bay of Bengal, India, bordering Bangladesh. Mr. Ghosh, a prize winning author and Oxford scholar, tells the tale while educating us in the ways of the tidal country: its man-eating tigers, exotic Mangrove trees, the extreme weather as in tsunamis and tidal waves (henc...more
Shyam Banerji
Fabulously researched. Makes great reading, especially if you have been to Sundarbans. Amitav Ghosh makes it come alive to the last detail. Amazing realism. A book that can be a bit tiring to someone who cannot visualise the Sundarbans. In any case, the Sundarbans has to be seen to be believed. The book has incomparable documentary value and puts Amitav Gosh high up on the list of up thorough researcher-novelists of the world. It takes time to pick up pace, but when it does, it is absolutely sto...more
Jennifer
I have been listening to the audio of The Hungry Tide this week while working. I am so sorry it's over. The narrator was very good, which naturally helps, but the language was beautiful, the setting was fascinating and the characters were so real to me that I am still thinking about them. The story is about adaptation, and about the interaction between humans, plants and animals. The author presents an excellent question: Do we have the right to promote conservation efforts in a place where thos...more
Eric
This book belongs on the shelf next to thrilling narratives such as _The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte_, which is to say, somewhere in a dark corner where we can leave it and forget about it.

Ghosh's star character is the Sundarban region of India. He presents the hard realities of civilization on the edge of wilderness in copious, poetic detail. By contrast, his human characters--especially the principals--are presented as somewhat boring and prosaic. Grand claims of romance alongside s...more
Preethi
May 24, 2014 Preethi rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Preethi by: Shalini
Such a brilliant book, remarkable storytelling, plot and wing. After a long time, this is one book that I had trouble putting down.
Even after having read the book, am in deep at - at the story, the author, people of the tide country, the tiger and the dolphins.
Sanjukta
In high school, when I first read, and abandoned mid-way, The Crystal Palace, I found Amitav Ghosh's writing ponderous, the plots too long-winded. The Shadow Lines which was part of the undergraduate syllabus did not improve my perception much, despite an author-signed copy of the volume. It was a few years later that the first book in the Ibis trilogy, The Sea of Poppies, brought about a complete turnaround, a change of heart. Now, I can only blame youth and my own impatience for the early and...more
Jeanette
Sep 07, 2010 Jeanette rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeanette by: jennymae60@gmail.com
Shelves: book-club
I loved this book from the first page as I was quickly drawn into the story set in the tidal area of Bengal. The language is beautiful and the characters are well developed.

This book contrasts the lives of people living close to nature in their traditional ways with the modern, educated and sometimes materialistic world. The reader is drawn into the story through the lives of Piya Roy, a marine biologist, who grew up in the U.S. who has come to Bengal to study the fresh water dolphins, and Kana...more
Aalap
I have a strange relationship with the books of Amitav Ghosh. Strangely enough, I have never bought one (nor have I stolen one, for that matter). They just appear into my life and disappear once I have finished reading them. This oddness to me is nothing short of a mystery. But I will not bore you with that here. I will simply say that I was 'given' this book by 'fate', as I walked into my hotel room lobby in Kathmandu. Of course, I asked around if it belonged to anyone else, and waited in the l...more
Karo
When you fall in love with an author, it's a great feeling knowing that there is a whole back catalogue waiting for you. The Hungry Tide was to be My Big Summer Read, but it's a lot shorter than the Ibis books, and I got a lot more reading done than just this one...

The setting of the novel alone is a thing of beauty. The story is told against the backdrop of the Sundarbans (Google it! With pictures!), an archipelago of islands half submerged by the waters of the Bay of Bengal. Ghosh's descripti...more
Satarupa Chakraborty
This my second Amitav Ghosh read after "The Glass Palace" and I must say my opinion on the author has remained the same, for better and worse.
Ghosh, in my opinion, is an amazing story teller. His prowess as an author however, is questionable. To that extent, I don't read Ghosh to drown in a sea of imagination or literary beauty. In fact,I plough through Ghosh's work for the sheer plot that I know every time is sensational.
Chronicling is not one of Ghosh's strong suit. The story is presented in a...more
Siddhartha
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Adnan
This is a beautifully crafted novel, weaving together characters far apart in space and time in a story spanning little over a week and based in the ‘tide country’, the name by which Ghosh refers to the Sundarbans, the settled islands off the coast of Bangladesh. The central characters, Piya, an American scientist of Indian origin, Kanai, the successful owner of a translating service in Calcutta and Fokir, an illiterate fisherman who lives in the tide country, in the tradition of great novels, f...more
Allen Elggren
From Page 216-217


From a displaced character in the book, Kusum...

"Saar," she said, wiping her face, "the worst part was not the hunger or the thirst. It was to sit here, helpless, and listen to the policemen making their announcements, hearing them say that our lives, our existence, were worth less than dirt or dust. 'This island has to be saved for its trees, it has to be saved for its animals, it is a part of a reserve forest, it belongs to a project to save tigers, which is paid for by people...more
Sandhya
It was with a little hesitation that I took up Amitav Ghosh's The Hungry Tide. Having got a bit bored with his Calcutta Chromosomes and not having read his acclaimed The Glass Palace, I wasn't quite sure what to expect here.
But thankfully, this turned out to be a worthy read, thanks to its fresh subject, thematic relevance and the tackling of its central characters.

Quite obviously, Ghosh’s interests as an anthropologist and professor shine though the novel and he’s tackled the central theme ie...more
Catherine Siemann
I first read of the Sundarbans region in an intensely magical realist depiction in Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, so I was curious to read a real-world depiction of the same region. Piya, the idealistic American-born marine biologist, is well-balanced by Kanai, the more cynical translator, whose childhood connections to the area give him a very different perspective. The third major character, Fokir, remains an enigma due to his inability to communicate directly with Piya, except through...more
Vipin Balan
How stories are made? U pluck them off the air. One of the best books that I have read.

Amitav weaves a fine story with the same intensity of a real life incident. The story and the narration together were an unstoppable train of events.

Gwynne
An exceedingly good read: vivid sense of place, interesting story, intriguing characters. Consistently compelling, and very exciting toward the end. Informative (about culture and biology) without being too didactic.

The writing mostly doesn't call attention to itself, leaving one to enjoy the story, but when I paid attention I was always impressed by the elegance of the prose.

I bookmarked a couple of especially lovely bits. Here's one:

"The two of them, Fokir and she, could have been boulders or...more
Rahul
This book touches multiple emotions - Thrill, Mystery, Love, Fear. It has multiple themes - Nature, Animals, History, Revolution, Fairy tales. Amitav Ghosh does commendable job in keeping all these in balance, didn't drag the story for a moment. The parallel narrative style engulfs you more in it. But, I felt he way the story of Nirmal concludes and also the main story concludes in the end as incomplete or little rushed. Only the characters of Piya, Fokir stay with you after the story finishes.
Priya
I have mixed feelings for Amitav Ghosh's 'The Hungry Tide'. It's about the struggle for survival of the people living in archipelago of Sundarbans. Usually as a reader I gain interest in book after reaching to a certain point but this book pleased me right from its beginning and I was sure it's something very enthralling. But as the story proceeds I find myself losing interest. Mostly cos a lot of attention is given to the cetology i.e. the behavior of dolphins of some breed which does not seem...more
Rob
Amitav Ghosh's "The Hungry Tide" is a wonder of a story, and he is a masterful writer.

One of the things I enjoy best about reading good fiction is how it can transport me from my world into worlds I might never have known or imagined. This book, "The Hungry Tide" does just that.

This story takes place "between the sea and the plains of Bengal, on the easternmost coast of India".
The story is about relationships and the way in which culture impacts us. This story is about love and loss, dreams, my...more
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Amitav Ghosh is one of India's best-known writers. His books include The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique Land, Dancing in Cambodia, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, Incendiary Circumstances, The Hungry Tide. His most recent novel, Sea of Poppies, is the first volume of the Ibis Trilogy.

Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta in 1956. He studied in Dehra Dun, New Delhi, Alexan...more
More about Amitav Ghosh...
The Glass Palace Sea of Poppies (Ibis Trilogy, #1) The Shadow Lines River of Smoke (Ibis Trilogy, #2) The Calcutta Chromosome: A Novel of Fevers, Delirium & Discovery

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