Opening in Calcutta in the 1960s, Ghosh’s radiant second novel follows two families - one English, one Bengali - as their lives intertwine in tragic and comic ways. The narrator, Indian-born and English educated, traces events back and forth in time, through years of Bengali partition and violence, observing the ways in which political events invade private lives.
©2005 Amitav Ghosh (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
"A stunning novel, a rare work that balances formal ingenuity, heart, and mind.” (New Republic)
Raj Varma's narration enhanced the experience of listening to a master story teller. His voice was fresh, appropriately nuanced and a pleasure to listen to. As always, Amitav Ghosh depicted characters with depth and sympathy. It is an old fashioned family tale and an exploration about what creates a family narrative and history. I thoroughly enjoyed this audio book. I would have given 4.5 or 4.75 stars if possible.
Though an Indian narrator has been selected for this book, it is remarkable how little he knows how to pronounce Indian words. For instance, the final vowel sound in "Ballygunj" is rendered "oo" rather than the schwa sound it ought to be. Similarly, the vowel in Sena (as in the medieval eastern Indian Sena dynasty), is pronounced as "ee" rather than "ay" (as in "say" or "bay"). And there are innumerable other more or less egregious instances of a similar lack of linguistic familiarity with the world described (and the Bengali that lies behind the author's English). This could have been remedied, of course, by a bit of research. Or, better, a native Calcuttan Bengali might have been found, which would have been easy enough.
The listening experience is not wholly compromised, but it is remarkable how little thought seems to go into the choice of narrators of Indian English novels. The rating is for the audiobook as a book.
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