At the heart of this vibrant saga is an immense ship, the Ibis. Its destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean, its purpose to fight China's vicious 19th-century Opium Wars....
Internationally best-selling author Amitav Ghosh, winner of the Pushcart Prize and numerous other prestigious accolades, pens a sweeping novel full of romantic adventure....
This novel by Amitav Ghosh tells the story of Rajkumar, a poor boy lifted on the tides of political and social chaos, who goes on to create an empire in the Burmese teak forest....
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 Ministry of Utmost Happiness transports us across a subcontinent on a journey of many years. It takes us deep into the lives of its gloriously rendered characters....
A profound, startling, and beautifully crafted debut novel, The Sympathizer is the story of a man of two minds, someone whose political beliefs clash with his individual loyalties....
In the late 18th century, Rene Sel, an illiterate woodsman, makes his way from Northern France to New France to seek a living....
Amitav Ghosh’s extraordinary first novel makes a claim on literary turf held by Gabriel García Márquez and Salman Rushdie....
In a crumbling, isolated house at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga lives an embittered old judge. He only wants to retire in peace, but then his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, arrives on his doorstep....
When Antar discovers the battered I.D. card of a long-lost acquaintance, he is suddenly drawn into a spellbinding adventure across centuries and around the globe....
Born into poverty, then trapped in the shackles of charity and gratitude, Mr. Biswas longs for a house he can call his own....
From prize-winning, best-selling author Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom....
Set in the London of the 1660s and of the early 21st century, The Weight of Ink is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect....
When, in 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, he is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across from the Kremlin....
This extraordinarily accomplished debut novel is a brilliantly plotted story of forbidden love and piercing political drama, centered on the tragic decline of an Indian family....
Once upon a time an Indian writer name Amitav Ghosh set out to find an Indian slave, name unknown, who some 700 years before had traveled to the Middle East....
In this stunning work of historical fiction, Laila Lalami brings us the imagined memoirs of the first black explorer of America--a Moroccan slave....
The Ibis, loaded to its gunwales with a cargo of indentured servants, is in the grip of a cyclone in the Bay of Bengal; among the dozens flailing for survival are Neel, the pampered raja who has been convicted of embezzlement; Paulette, the French orphan masquerading as a deck-hand; and Deeti, the widowed poppy grower fleeing her homeland with her lover, Kalua.
The storm also threatens the clipper ship Anahita, groaning with the largest consignment of opium ever to leave India for Canton. And the Redruth, a nursery ship, carries Frederick “Fitcher” Penrose, a horticulturist determined to track down the priceless treasures of China that are hidden in plain sight: its plants that have the power to heal, or beautify, or intoxicate. All will converge in Canton’s Fanqui-town, or Foreign Enclave: a tumultuous world unto itself where civilizations clash and sometimes fuse. It is a powder keg awaiting a spark to ignite the Opium Wars.
Spectacular coincidences, startling reversals of fortune, and tender love stories abound. But this is much more than an irresistible page-turner. The blind quest for money, the primacy of the drug trade, the concealment of base impulses behind the rhetoric of freedom: in River of Smoke the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries converge, and the result is a consuming historical novel with powerful contemporary resonance. Critics praised Sea of Poppies for its vibrant storytelling, antic humor, and rich narrative scope; now Amitav Ghosh continues the epic that has charmed and compelled readers all over the globe.
One of the obvious downsides is that there is no glossary ( apparently the print edition has one). So, even though I knew it must be something else (Fanqui Town as it turns out) I couldn't help hearing it as Funky town and imagining an appropriate Sino-GeorgeClinton beat. In any case, I LIKED the narration and thought Robin was hardly over the top in his Gayness. From the text alone, without Mr. Jhaveri's hilarious rendition, it is obvious that the 20th century has no monopoly on flamers.
I quickly got used to not understanding certain words and one can understand them adequately in context. I enjoyed that Ghosh pauses in his description of scenes to list things (I guess generally in Bengali or Hindi): "the alley was crowded with pudongs, khalisha, mradupamen, lascars, sepoys and phonkas." Particularly good are the lists when there are descriptions of food. It is easy (and a good exercise) to be drawn into contemplating the deep immorality of the opium trade and realize how recently this history was brushed aside since it was Heathen Chinee. This, of course, is why WE are now addicted to plastic crap. The Celestial Ones are having the last laugh.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
What would have made River of Smoke better?
The cast of characters from the last book. <br/><br/>You have a few new characters with interesting storyline, but overall the story is loaded so much with irrelevant information that it becomes tedious.
What do you think your next listen will be?
The next book of course. Hoping that's better.
How could the performance have been better?
Robin's accent is jarring and over the top. And most of his story is through letters he writes. Hard to picture such an accent for a letter.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
Disappointment. Specially since the first part of the trilogy was so good.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I read a number of professional reviews of this book (not on this site) before buying and now that I've listened to it, I feel like I read a different book from them. This book is so very dissimilar from Sea of Poppies - that book introduced a variety of characters and we followed them on their complex interesting journey that brought them together and beyond. What I found in this book was soooo much description of the time in place (ie: Canton and the pearl river delta area). It didn't seem very much happened. Diti's story opened the book, but then disappeared. Included in this story is Ah Fatt, Neal and Paulette as well as some new characters.
While short on storyline, the book is full of descriptive details that seem very authentic and vivid. But for much of the book, you'll need to be content with that and anticipating a third book that may bring more action, since the author is leading up to the Opium wars. I feel like this book should be part 1 of the next book. But as I say, my take on this book is different than others, so you may feel differently.
I wish that this book had been narrated by the narrator of SOP. This narrator is good except his very over-the-top rendition of Robin. Yes, we get he's gay. That's not the problem, it's that he often sounds like a Saturday Night Live spoof of a flaming gay man. He sounds so modern. We get most of the description of Canton in letters Robin writes to Paulette, so we hear a LOT of that character. And I think that is why so much of description was annoying to me - a little of the Robin voice as they chose to do it goes a long way. Ghosh added some light-hearted humor with Robin (ie: his unlimited pet names for Paulette), but the humor was lost to me in the extreme performance of Robin. I would not recommend this book other than it continues the trilogy and probably will be needed to get the full experience of the third part when it comes out.
4 of 6 people found this review helpful
Wonderful writing and insight into a shocking period in world history. But, the narrator, who was fine for most of the voices, was absolutely horrible in the part of Robin. So horrible, overblown, and annoying that it was painful to listen to and I came close to just buying the book in print to avoid listening to him. I wonder what the author thinks of the narrator's interpretation of this important character. It really ruined this book for me and I have been waiting for it for three years. I wonder what kind of quality control was untertaken before this was released. Not enough I think.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Amitav Ghosh gives the reader a broad, multicultural & entertaining view of life in Asia preceding the Opium Wars.rich view of life in & around Canton and a Brilliant & insightful view of the life & culture which grew around the trade of opium. Gives the reader a fascinating & multifaceted understanding of British colonialism on this period of history & on the world economy . The varied cast of characters and their interwoven activities captivate the reader and lead him irresistibly through the narrative from Sea of Poppies & on through River of Smoke to just before the first of the opium wars.. I can't wait to follow Amitav Ghosh's path onto Flood of Fire.
Very engaging and enjoyable. Highlight: hilarious portrayal of British opium merchants' hypocrisy in justifying their trade. Weakness: the character Robin is already overwritten and intolerable when the narrator overactive him. Going on to book four in the Ibis trilogy.
Amitav Ghosh's trilogy takes as his subject India in the early nineteenth century and the maritime world that stretched east and west from it, from Mauritius to Macau. He renders it with such a depth of detail, intense characterizations, and depth of plot that it rendered me breathless.
The story, though set in 1830s Canton, is full of metaphors for today's world. The British opium merchants cry "free trade" as they amass fortunes by peddling their drug in China. The Emperor tries to eradicate the trade, but is thwarted by corruption in his own bureaucracy.
What made the experience of listening to River of Smoke the most enjoyable?
The story is thoroughly engaging, the reader is excellent, and the tale imparts a segment of history many of us in the the Western World know little about.
What other book might you compare River of Smoke to and why?
Before reading River of Smoke, one would do well to read the first of the Ibis Trilogy, Sea Of Poppies.
Which character – as performed by Sanjiv Jhaveri – was your favorite?
The cast of characters is broad and sympathetic, even with their flaws. Throughout the narrative I was concerned and anxious about the fate of each, and I can hardly wait for the the conclusion in the third volume, not yet published.
Would you listen to River of Smoke again? Why?
Yes, because I love the narration, I am looking at all of the books that are performed by this narrator. I loved the characters, so many interesting character studies, I loved the history and the subject.
What was one of the most memorable moments of River of Smoke?
Hard to pick one, images of Canton in this time period, the flower boats, the description of an opium high.
Have you listened to any of Sanjiv Jhaveri’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
No, but I am definitely going to in future!
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
A romance with opium, flowers and human frailty
Any additional comments?
How does this narrator master so many accents and voices? He is incredible!