'River of Smoke' by Amitav Ghosh

Cleveland Park LibraryStaff Picks

'River of Smoke' by Amitav Ghosh

Staff Recommendations

River of Smoke bookcoverIf you are not familiar with the work of Amitav Ghosh, you are in for an enriching reading experience.  If you want to know what the atmosphere was like in the area of India and China in the early part of the 19th century, the author will treat you to vivid descriptions so real that you will actually feel like you are living in that time and place.  Ghosh seems to know everything about the East in the early 19th century.  His descriptions of the people, towns, clothing, customs and food are amazing and dialogs in Gujarati, Hindustani, Pidgin and Cantonese are astounding.

River of Smoke is the continuation of his novel a Sea of Poppies, where the reader learns about the manufacturing of opium. River of Smoke mostly centers on a Parsee opium dealer who brokers his product in China, where he has a second wife and a son, and describes some events that took place before the Opium War of 1839.

The story is densely packed with history and side stories and might require the reader to make a list of characters in order to keep up.  Readers who enjoyed One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez might enjoy this book for the rich details and some elements of fantasy.
-- Hanife Conry