aswin's Reviews > The Glass Palace

The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh
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Jun 01, 2011

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Ghosh weaves the lives of characters spanning three generations as they try to rearrange their personal lives around a world that is quite beyond their control. The novel is set mostly in 19th and 20th century Burma and India (US and other parts of South East Asia also play roles), but you could read through its characters the many conflicting tugs of the colonial condition in general. The novel starts out as a slow read but as the second generation of characters start to grow up and the pace of historical events reaches a peak (+- 1940s), Ghosh is at his best.

Almost all of his characters migrate to new places/cultures and this makes for quite a few crises of identity. His deft handling of such situations is a sort of plea/hint to not look for simple answers to such questions.

allied reading : Ghosh's article in the New Yorker (Aug, 1997). It is an essay exploring the British Indian Army (no, not INA) and whether the British feared a serious revolt within its ranks and if this in anyway contributed to the exit in 1947.
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Are you familiar with this part of the world? Most of what was in this book was new information for me.


aswin @Jeanette - India, certainly yes.. Burma, not so much. But, many of the themes that Ghosh explores in the novel, say for example the attitudes of Indians serving in the British Indian Army are not as widely discussed in India as one may expect. So, even for those from India, the novel may be conveying much that is new.


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" I'm familiar with India in a general way just from reading a lot, but I didn't know the history of Burma. This book really opened my eyes to the greed involved in colonialism.


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