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Following Fish: Travels Around the Indian Coast

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  371 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
In a coastline as long and diverse as India's, fish inhabit the heart of many worlds—food of course, but also culture, commerce, sport, history and society. Journeying along the edge of the peninsula, Samanth Subramanian reports upon a kaleidoscope of extraordinary stories.

In nine essays, Following Fish conducts rich journalistic investigations: among others, of the famed
Paperback, 1st Edition, 167 pages
Published 2010 by Penguin Books India
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শেষ কবে এমন দুরদানত ভরমণ সাহিতয পড়েছি, বলতে পারবো না। তবে একথা নিরদবিধায় বলতে পারি যে ইংরেজী ভাষার ভরমণ-সাহিতয গুরুদের যে কোন সৃষটির পাশে এই বই মাথা তুলে দাঁড়াতে পারবে। বরুস চযাটউইন বা পল থেরু বা কলিন থাবরোন এমন চমৎকার একটা বই পাঠকদের উপহার দিয়ে খুশী-মনে ঘুমোতে যেতে পারতেন। সামানথ সুবরামানিয়ানের লেখা এই পরথম পড়ছি - গতকালই জানতে পারলাম যে শরীলংকার গৃহযুদধ নিয়ে লেখা তার দবিতীয় বই ইতিমধযে সযামুয়েল জনসন পুরসকারের জনযে মনোনীত হয়েছে। ইংরেজি নন-ফিকশন সাহিতযের অনযতম গুরুতবপূরণ পুরসকার সযামুয়েল জনসন পরাই ...more
Sairam Krishnan
Apr 24, 2015 Sairam Krishnan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Samanth Subramaniam’s first book, a travelogue of India’s coastline and its favourite fish is an absolute delight. The writing is consistently brilliant; Subramaniam’s friendly monologue is funny, knowledgeable and throws at you little nuggets of savoury information all the time. I came to Following Fish after reading the author’s second book, an oral history of the Sri Lankan Civil War, the critically acclaimed This Divided Island, and you can see here shades of the mastery that he achieved the ...more
Nov 01, 2012 Santhosh rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I'm a fan of narrative journalism and Samanth Subramanian's Following Fish is an excellent example of such long-form writing as he weaves a beautiful, eidetic narrative about the Neithal hinterlands. As much as this book is about the karimeen and the hilsa, it's also very much about communities, cultures, histories, tales, recipes, social commentaries, fishing, boats, travel, and people. I had picked up the book expecting it to be a travelogue through some of coastal India. There is however a la ...more
Adrianna Tan
Jan 04, 2012 Adrianna Tan added it
Shelves: desi
Travelogue with a twist. Just as you thought you'd seen — and read — it all about India, here comes Subramaniam's deft take on a very specific culinary and cultural niche: fish. In particular, he follows fish, fish stories, fish people, all around the coasts and inner lands of India. Quite fittingly, he begins with Calcutta: the land of the Great Bong Fish Addiction. Each chapter focuses on one place, one story. There's wistful longing for Goan fishing before the crowds, and you can almost smell ...more
Vivek Tejuja
Apr 28, 2013 Vivek Tejuja rated it it was amazing
I believe in discovering books on my own. I do not believe in recommendations because I am scared that most people do not know what I love to read or do not care to ask. It is a fact. Most people just put a book in your hands and tell you, “You must read this.” There is nothing more to that interaction. And yet there are times when I am completely taken in by a recommendation and love it to the core. This was the case with, “Following Fish” by Samanth Subramanian that was highly recommended by a ...more
Mohammad Moonis
Nov 04, 2014 Mohammad Moonis rated it it was amazing
As an avid fan of Indian fish curries, this travelogue by Samanth Subramanium attracted my attention. But, “Following Fish – Travels around the Indian coast” goes beyond just fishes. The traveler explores many things that surround the marine fishing, lives around the coastal India and everything that influences it. He first tries his hands on Hilsa which is highly thorny but most prized fish among the Bengali communities. He masters the eating skill required to eat a Hilsa. Similarly, he tries M ...more
Amit Kurien
Jan 31, 2011 Amit Kurien rated it really liked it
Ramchandra Guha in his review of the book refers to the author's writing as a rare variety of journalism of the 'long-form' and "a travel book like no other". The narrative style is certainly interesting - it has the brevity of the journalistic form, with longer chapters and with greater details. Among the ones I really liked were the travel in Kerala and Bengal with a single objective in mind - to relish meen curry (slurrp!) and ileesh! Samnath nicely intermingles food with culture (for example ...more
fun, entertaining narrative journalism of some 9 selected areas of india coast, author discovers area and history and culture (somewhat, it is pretty light writing, very funny too, and he hits lots of topics of culture, like food, religion, language, politics, work, play, housing, history) through hands on visiting, eating, and learning. has 9 very small photos, no map, no index, no glossary, no bibliography, but fun and fast read. and gorgeous food writing
Dec 31, 2014 Sneha rated it really liked it
I am a violently vegetarian individual with no inclination in the past or hereon to ever alter my food habits. And yet this book was unputdownable. I wilfully followed Subramanium from the very familiar Park Hotel b of Calcutta to the entirely alien ceremonies of eating live fish whole in Hyderabad, to the struggling and diminishing fishing communities along the West coast and the vegetarian carpenters of Surat. I enjoyed very much learning about unscrupulously belligerent tailfish, Bangladeshi ...more
Arathi Mohan
Jan 30, 2016 Arathi Mohan rated it really liked it
Shelves: india, travel, non-fiction
The author takes you through India's coastal garland, starting from West Bengal on the east and ending up at the boat-building docks of Veraval in Gujarat. The book is essentially a gourmet tour, and you will come across the most famous piscine names of each region - the hilsa or ilish in Bengal, the karimeen or Pearl Spot in Kerala and the Bombay duck in Mumbai. However, the book looks at fish not just as food, but also medicine (albeit doubtfully) at the famous Hyderabad treatment for asthma t ...more
Ranjeev Dubey
Jul 19, 2014 Ranjeev Dubey rated it really liked it
I read this book a long time ago. I will part with the subject by saying this; it was absolutely the best book I read that year and I would recommend this slim volume to everyone.
Jun 15, 2012 Sundar rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
Under the pretext of "Following Fish", Samanth weaves a commentary on the society, ecology, cuisine(s), geography, religion, language(s), and more around the coastal places of India. But, in surprisingly light text. Each of the 9 essays talks about a different place and focuses on a different aspect. If someone likes fish for food, is interested in the lives of fisher-folk, or wants to know the history of migration to Indian coasts or anything else about fish, they'll enjoy reading this book. My ...more
Dec 14, 2014 Viju rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, read-in-2014
Following Fish was the second book of Samanth that I read (after This Divided Island). Quite like this second book, Samanth creates a story around his travels with a good mix of both research and pleasure. The best parts of the book came from the essays on Bengal, Tamilnadu, Kerala, and Bombay. Writing about travel is never an easy task and Samanth, given his journalistic capabilities treads the line separating a fact-based journalist and a trivia-based traveler successfully.

Looking forward to
Hansda Shekhar
Jun 03, 2016 Hansda Shekhar rated it it was amazing
Samanth Subramanian's FOLLOWING FISH is a very good book! I had been wanting to read this right from the time it first came out and I had been reading good things about it. I wonder what took me so long?

The "fish" in FOLLOWING FISH is just a ruse. In the garb of "following fish", Subramanian, actually, follows peoples, cultures, history, society, beliefs, faiths, religions, and, of course, places and cuisines. In short, FOLLOWING FISH is all about being a part of this country, being a part of th
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
For two years of my life, I woke up every morning with the terrible stench of the dried fish “Bombay Duck” penetrating my home every time the wind blew in the sleeping village of Chimbai in Mumbai. And let me tell you this is one smell you will never forget in your life. Reading “Following Fish” by Samanth Subramanian brought back memories of those days when I fell in and out of Fish almost every single day. The author has beautifully captured his travels around the coast of India following the ...more
Dec 13, 2015 Deepika rated it really liked it
The idea of travel is to try and understand the world better and, in the process, to let go of your prejudices; to love people for who they are and to love the world for what it is;

Samnath describes his travels in a very matter of factly way, chooses his words with an almost clinical precision and yet manages to make you fall in love with these places and people- the man at the mobile recharge shop at Manipadu who still preserves writings about the city; the fishermen in Goa complaining about o
Nov 09, 2015 Akshay rated it it was amazing
I first came across the author's name (as strange as it sounds) on a list of winners of a quiz by the Karnataka quiz association. It was a website I visited occasionally, enough to sometimes pick up names that were odd, long or both.
The second time I came across Samanth Subramanian's name was on YouTube, when I was scrolling through the comments section of a 1960's video called 'I am 20' I didn't remember the name then - the video was far too overwhelming. A few months later a half a dozen peop
Nancy Stringer
While the connection to fish often seems oblique, a larger theme gradually comes into view: the challenging nature of belief and tradition in a fast-modernising India. The author gradually piles up episodes in which his nation's older, softer ways are being quietly eroded. This is a book about the persistence of tradition as much as its destruction, a point made by the continued popularity of the Hyderabad fish festival.
Sreeni Nair
Jun 24, 2016 Sreeni Nair rated it really liked it
Great book! Difficult to believe that this is the first book of the author.

Serendipity is what brought this book to me. I was whiling time at the Kochi airport, browsing the bookshops. The cover of this book caught my eye. Since I like reading about fish (I know
Aditya Sridhar
Apr 16, 2016 Aditya Sridhar rated it really liked it
Following Fish is an excellent book that provides insights and anecdotes into the culture and society of fishing communities along the long peninsular coastline. It is palatable even to folks who don't consume fish. And for those who do, I can only imagine that the vivid descriptions will leave you yearning to go out there and experience it by yourself.
Nishant Jha
Jun 24, 2014 Nishant Jha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This had to be an enjoyable read! afterall it is based on 2 of my top favourite passions - Food and Passion! and I also love sea, seafood and everything related to them! Samanth has done a stupendous job in researching for this book and it shows with the kind of detailing which has been presented! The Bengla Hilsa, The Andhra Live Fish TB Treatment, Toddy Shops of Kerala, Fishing Boat Industry of Gujarat, The Misery of Goa and lots of History snippets have been very well documented in this book! ...more
Achuthan Sivadas
Jan 27, 2012 Achuthan Sivadas rated it it was ok
Shelves: indian-authors
I am a foodie. The title was very appealing and I fell for the book. The only thing good about this book is its alluring title. It is a very boring read.
Sep 25, 2014 Anders rated it it was ok
I had high hopes for this one, the premise is interesting, but the book fails to fulfill even the most modest expectations. There certainly could be a good book here, but this isn't it. The individual essays fail to gesture to a coherent whole, and actually I'm not convinced the essays themselves hold up even individually. There's no larger theme, no deeper observations, just a handful of short little vignettes set in various seaside villages, anticlimactic little investigations populated by unl ...more
John Benson
Apr 18, 2015 John Benson rated it really liked it
The nine different travel essays included in this book help bring out the importance of fish or fishing culture in different parts of the Indian coast. Some essays center around a particular way of cooking fish in a particular region of India, while others look at a certain group of fishermen, boat builders or another aspect of "fish" culture. I have no complaints about the writing, but this is yet another travel book that publishers have chosen to publish without a map. It seems like laziness o ...more
Aug 14, 2015 Pranietha rated it really liked it
Samanth Subramanian’s book about ‘fishy’ travels across the coast of India is a treasure trove of anecdotes about people who dabble in anything to do with fish. Samanth takes us through West Bengal where he learns to eat Hilsa, Andhra Pradesh to swallow a live fish to cure asthma, Kerala in search of traditional fish recipes and toddy, Mangalore in Karnataka fishing around for the perfect fish curry, learning how to fish and angle in Goa, and wrapping up with building a boat in Gujarat.

While eve
Nicely written, articulate & interesting.
Each chapter is in a different location, following a story related to the central theme - fish. Fish as food, fishing as an occupation, fish as medical cure, fishing as a sport, building of fishing boats, and fish and fishing as a part of culture.

1 Kolkata - the Hilsa fish - Ganga or Padma
2 Hyderabad - the faith healing of asthma
3 Tamil Nadu - the Parava people and their famous fish podi(powder)
4 Kerala - the spicy fish dishes of the toddy shops
5 Mang
Oct 07, 2012 Ravinder rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Prabodh Sirur
Recommended to Ravinder by: Abhay Gupte
Nine essays of travels around the Indian coast.

Samanth's writing is so easy to read, that I am really happy to have picked up this book, recommended to me as it was by a senior colleague who loves his fish.

His essays covers the western coast of India in 6 of the 9 essays. Personally, I would have loved to have read more of the experiences from the eastern coast too... from places like Machilipatanam, etched into my 12 year old mind because of a devastating cyclone in 1977, of how they dealt with
Neetha Vuppala
Nov 06, 2012 Neetha Vuppala rated it it was amazing
This was around the time of the Jaipur Literature Festival of January 2012 in India, I came across a list of the top 10 favorite books by notable authors. One book caught my attention and it was “Following Fish” by Samanth Subramanian. The author is a journalist by profession and this is his first non-fiction book. The book is more like a travelogue, detailing the journeys and the experiences of the author as he travels along India’s coast “following fish” in different states, and goes beyond co ...more
Robin Massey
Jul 13, 2013 Robin Massey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
I don’t go fishing, I don’t swallow a lot of fish and its turns out that Following Fish doesn’t actually conform well with my blog goals. There are few travelling details and Samanth reveals that the places depicted were not visited in one trip (for wholly practical and understandable reasons but, again, doesn’t meet my goals).

This is more of book for fish foodies and those interested in exploring the sub-cultures surrounding the fish of India. That said, Samanth’s food writing is dripping with
Jul 20, 2014 Prathaban rated it it was amazing
A delightful little travelogue. A plateful of appetisers - one for each state along the coast(and 2 for Goa). Personal favourites were the Hilsa and toddy journeys. Very well-written. Brilliant in parts. Enjoyable all through. As an Indian you shouldn't miss it. But for a non-Indian it becomes a *must* read. Hope to see many more books in this genre. I understand Samanth's next book is on a more serious topic (the post-conflict Sri Lankan situation). Looking forward to it.
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Samanth Subramanian is the India correspondent for The National and the author of two books of reportage, "Following Fish: Travels Around the Indian Coast" and "This Divided Island: Stories from the Sri Lankan War." His writing has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, Granta, the Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Intelligent Life, Aeon, Mint, Travel + Leisure, and Caravan, am
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“On my way out, I stopped again at Boloor's house to thank him. He was leaving home as well, and as we walked to the gate together, I filled his ears with praise of Shailaja's fish curry. 'Really, that good, was it?' Boloor asked. 'But then, I wouldn't know,' he continued, this stalwart president of the Mogaveera Vyavasthpaka Mandali and secretary of the Akhila Karnataka Fishermen's Parishad, of the National Fishworkers' Federation and of the Coastal Karnataka Fishermen Action Committee. ' You see, I don't eat fish.” 3 likes
“If Bengali cuisine were Wimbledon, the hilsa would always play on Centre Court.” 1 likes
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