Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship's Reviews > Sea of Poppies

Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
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Jun 01, 2012

bookshelves: abandoned

"[I]t didn't serve for a sahib to be taken for a clodpoll of a griffin: if he wasn't fly to what was going on, it'd be all dickey with him, mighty jildee.... If he, Zachary, wasn't to be diddled and taken for a flat, he would have to learn to gubbrow the natives with a word or two of the zubben."

... You don't say?

I am sure this is a perfectly good book, but its marketing as a fun seafaring adventure is way off-base. It is, apparently (40-odd pages in) a book about language. And if you don't know a word or two of the zubben, you're going to spend a lot of time feeling like a clodpoll.

Sometimes words will actually be translated in the text, and you'd better mark the page because the author will use these terms from there on out. I've just about got seafaring terms in English, but here "[t]he deck now became the 'tootuk' while the masts were 'dols'; a command became a 'hookum' and instead of the starboard and larboard, fore and aft, he had to say 'jamna' and 'dawa', 'agil' and 'peechil'." And so, reader, will you.

There's a 42-page glossary, but it doesn't have most of the words I wanted to look up. When it does include something, the entry tends to read like this:

"Achar: 'There are those who would gloss this as "pickle",' writes Neel, 'although that word is better applied to the definition than the thing defined.'"

You don't say.
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Reading Progress

04/01/2014 marked as: considering
04/01/2014 marked as: considering
02/15/2016 marked as: abandoned

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Jeanette (new)

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Yikes! Shiver me timbers!

message 2: by Tamara (new) - added it

Tamara Dunno,I enjoyed it, and don't recall having too much trouble grokking the language. (I don't recall using the glossary either. Context usually sufficed.) It was only a little worse than some genre stuff, in that respect.

Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship I imagine it wouldn't present too much trouble if I was in the right mood for it. I was just finding the sheer number of words I didn't recognize exhausting, even though the gist of it is, as you say, discernible from context.

message 4: by Jessica (new) - added it

Jessica Fromm I read your review after posting that I found the language impossibly hard to to manage. So far, yours is the only review among raves that addresses this issue.

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