The Circle of Reasonby Amitav Ghosh
Amitav Ghosh’s extraordinary first novel makes a claim on literary turf held by Gabriel García Márquez and Salman Rushdie. In a vivid and magical story, The Circle of Reason traces the misadventures of Alu, a young master weaver in a small Bengali village who is falsely accused of terrorism. Alu flees his home, traveling through Bombay to the
Amitav Ghosh’s extraordinary first novel makes a claim on literary turf held by Gabriel García Márquez and Salman Rushdie. In a vivid and magical story, The Circle of Reason traces the misadventures of Alu, a young master weaver in a small Bengali village who is falsely accused of terrorism. Alu flees his home, traveling through Bombay to the Persian Gulf to North Africa with a bird-watching policeman in pursuit.
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Meet the Author
Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta in 1956 and raised and educated in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Iran, Egypt, India, and the United Kingdom, where he received his Ph.D. in social anthropology from Oxford. Acclaimed for fiction, travel writing, and journalism, his books include The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In an Antique Land, and Dancing in Cambodia. His previous novel, The Glass Palace, was an international bestseller that sold more than a half-million copies in Britain. Recently published there, The Hungry Tide has been sold for translation in twelve foreign countries and is also a bestseller abroad. Ghosh has won France’s Prix Medici Etranger, India’s prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the Pushcart Prize. He now divides his time between Harvard University, where he is a visiting professor, and his homes in India and Brooklyn, New York.
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The Circle of Reason is the first novel by Indian author, Amitav Ghosh. The story of Nachiketa Bose, known throughout the narration as Alu because of his misshapen head, is related from his arrival at his uncle Balaram’s house in the Bengali town of Lalpukur, when he is orphaned at eight years old. A boy who becomes gifted at languages and a skilful weaver, a cascade of events leads to Alu’s flight across India, into the Middle East and across northern Africa, pursued by a tenacious policeman, Jyoti Das, under the pretext that he is a suspect in a terrorist incident. Ghosh gives the reader a rich cast of characters that are appealing and complex; even minor characters are allotted a potted history in their turn. The plot has quite a few twists, and Ghosh manages to fairly seamlessly include a village squabble, weaving, phrenology and physiognomy, a man obsessed with carbolic acid, the life of Louis Pasteur, a theory on queues, a comparison between communism and capitalism, a self-immolation, an attack with boiling oil, a building collapse, the Hindu epic Mahabharata and sewing machines. An amazing debut novel.