In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a diverse cast of Indians and Westerners, from a bankrupt Raja to a widowed tribeswoman, from a mulatto American freedman to a free-spirited French orphan. As their old family ties are washed away, they, like their historical counterparts, come to view themselves as jahaj-bhais, or ship brothers. An unlikely dynasty is born, which will span continents, races, and generations.
The vast sweep of this historical adventure embraces the lush poppy fields of the Ganges, the rolling high seas, and the crowded backstreets of Canton. But it is the panorama of characters, whose diaspora encapsulates the vexed colonial history of the East itself, that makes Sea of Poppies so breathtakingly alive - a masterpiece from one of the world's finest novelists.
©2008 Amitav Ghosh; (P)2008 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
"Such is the power of Ghosh's precise, understated prose that one occasionally wishes to turn the pages three at a time, eager to find out where Ghosh's tale is headed." (The Boston Globe)
"A writer of supreme skill and intelligence. " (The Atlantic Monthly)
I really enjoyed Ghosh's other book Hungry Tide, so I was looking forward to this one. I must admit, it took me a while to get into this book. I found the various accents of the characters difficult to understand and I felt that I was being introduced to a lot of different characters really quickly without enough context...however, as I listened further all this changed. All of a sudden I was immersed in the rich world that Ghosh created and I was loath to stop listening. By the time this book ended, I wanted more and was sad that the book had ended. This book will likely be a 2nd listen for me in the future.
I'll definitely read more by Amitav Ghosh. His ability to tell an emotionally engaging, richly detailed story is fantastic. This novel does a beautiful job of introducing characters and then weaving their stories together in a captivating way. I also enjoyed his depiction of the period just before the opium wars in India, and his way of depicting the reasons behind the challenges of life for the Indian people in a very honest, frank manner. I would urge writers who are setting stories in colonial British India to educate their readers about the life of the Indian people under British rule as honestly as Amitav Ghosh does. I learn new things every time I read one of his books, but in ways that are human and relatable.
I dislike this narration intensely. Phil Gigante's pacing is plodding and makes it difficult to get into the rhythm of the story. Additionally, he does a terrible job voicing the Indian characters. They either use horribly mispronounced Hindi/Bengali words, or have spoken English accents reminiscent of stereotypical Chinamen in 1950s Orientalist films. I am hoping the remainder of the recordings of the books in this series have a different narrator.
The narrator's accent was all wrong - he made the Indians sound like Jamaicans, and it made me cringe. He also spoke too fast, not resting sufficiently between sentences. I ultimately gave up on the audio version and bought the kindle version instead. I'm enjoying the book thoroughly having done that.
Good writing. There are so many Indian actors to choose from - why not pick one of them to narrate this story?
As other reviewers note - this book has a ton of Indic and other non English names and words that the reader pronounces like a very British pukka sahib. Most English folk I know can pronounce Indian words a bit better than this. Moreover the accents range from the indescribable to the unpronounceable! Indian women are rendered as falsetto men with what appears to be a Caribbean accent! Some Indian men appear to have Chinese accents. All very unintentionally funny, but this does take away from the story. The Indian words are so badly pronounced (at one point the Brahmaputra is called the baramputra, singhs become seenghs, ...)
This book is just so good, on so many levels. The narrator is the best I've heard, he really nails all the accents and it's wonderful to hear the correct pronunciation of the mix of languages used in the book. You won't be sorry if you listen to this one.
I usually avoid historical fiction at all costs, but decided to give this book a chance.
Unfortunately, it suffered from the same flaws as many of its ilk, in my opinion:
The history and the characters are depicted equally, which detracts from both, making them light and dull, respectively.
Also, the characters are either innocent pure angels, or the most dastardly heartless villains, which in both cases makes them generally annoying and predictable.
So, while it wasn't a badly written book, I got fed up about 2/3 through and gave up.
Having suffered through most of "Sea Of Poppies" I suggest the title should be "Sea Of Indian Words Whose Only Purpose Is To Prove The Narrator Can Pronounce Them". The story, if there is one, could easily told in an hour. This is the first audiobook I have erased from my library. Terrible!
I've read & loved many of this author's books, but this is my favorite so far. As always, the author reveals a great deal about India & it's culture by skillful writing that blends character, plot, setting, etc, but this book about the era of the Opium Wars was particularly intriguing. The diverse characters are wonderfully drawn, and Ghosh weaves them together through a capitulating plot which refers to the past and foreshadows future events. At the end of the novel the reader is left content about the outcome yet also eagerly curious about the future.
I have powered through some really badly narrated books in the past, but this is by far the worst performance. The narrator absolutely butchered the pronounciations of many words, and I was not able to understand the accents of one of the characters.
This book would have been far better served with a narrator of Indian origin as they would have pronounced the words accurately.
Overall the story is really good. If you can put up with the mispronouncations of the narrator then do go ahead and purcahse this book.
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