In an Antique Land: History in the Guise of a Traveler's Tale [NOOK Book]

Overview

Once upon a time an Indian writer named Amitav Ghosh set out an Indian slave, name unknown, who some seven hundred years before had traveled to the Middle East. The journey took him to a small village in Egypt, where medieval customs coexist with twentieth-century desires and discontents. But even as Ghosh sought to re-create the life of his Indian predecessor, he found himself immersed in those of his modern Egyptian neighbors.
   Combining shrewd observations ...
See more details below
In an Antique Land: History in the Guise of a Traveler's Tale

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$13.99
BN.com price

Overview

Once upon a time an Indian writer named Amitav Ghosh set out an Indian slave, name unknown, who some seven hundred years before had traveled to the Middle East. The journey took him to a small village in Egypt, where medieval customs coexist with twentieth-century desires and discontents. But even as Ghosh sought to re-create the life of his Indian predecessor, he found himself immersed in those of his modern Egyptian neighbors.
   Combining shrewd observations with painstaking historical research, Ghosh serves up skeptics and holy men, merchants and sorcerers. Some of these figures are real, some only imagined, but all emerge as vividly as the characters in a great novel. In an Antique Land is an inspired work that transcends genres as deftly as it does eras, weaving an entrancing and intoxicating spell.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a leisurely blend of travelogue, history and cross-cultural analysis, Indian writer Ghosh reconstructs a 12th-century master-slave relationship that confounds modern concepts of slavery. Abraham Ben Yiju, a prosperous Tunisian Jewish merchant based in medieval Cairo, resettled in Aden, then spent two decades on India's Malabar Coast, where he hired a slave or servant, probably of Indian origin, named Bomma. Bomma acted as Ben Yiju's business agent and made overseas trips for him. In medieval India and the Middle East, Ghosh points out, servitude was often a career opportunity, the principal means of recruitment into privileged strata of the army and bureaucracy. Researching in letters and documents in Egypt, where he lived for several years, Ghosh ( The Shadow Lines ) evokes a world of mud-walled houses and class warfare between Egyptian laborers and landowners. He also writes vividly of southern India, a tapestry of castes, cults and worship of spirit-deities. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Ghosh, an Indian Hindu, first read about a medieval (12th century) Jew and his Indian slave while a student at Oxford. He became fascinated almost to the point of obsession. After studying Arabic, he enrolled at a university in Alexandria, Egypt to perform further research. A professor found him lodgings in an nearby village. This book recounts his attempt to merge the two stories: life in modern Egyptian villages (not dissimilar to that of 5000 years ago), and his search for the Indian slave. The merger doesn't quite work. Individually, both subjects are fascinating; together they are less so. In addition, Ghosh's language and writing style are both stilted. Still, Ghosh's subject is exotic yet intimate, and academic and public libraries should consider purchasing his account.-- Paula M. Zieselman, Fulbright & Jaworski, New York
Donna Seaman
Amitav Ghosh, a Hindu from India, was working on his doctorate in social anthropology when he first came across mention of an obviously well regarded Indian slave in the miraculously preserved papers of a twelfth-century Jewish Egyptian merchant. This glimpse into the cosmopolitan world of Middle Eastern trade during the Middle Ages inspired Ghosh to investigate this small but meaningful link between the two ancient lands of India and Egypt. More than a decade's worth of research brought him to libraries all over the world, as well as to two tiny, out-of-the-way Egyptian villages where he experienced his own awkward but ultimately rewarding cross-cultural experiences. Ghosh nimbly weaves together anecdotes of his days as a token Hindu among Muslims with the truly astonishing biographical fragments he tracked down about the successful, luxury-loving, and somewhat renegade trader Ben Yijn and his bright, sociable, and ambitious slave, or more accurately, protege, Bomma. Both tales, one modern, the other medieval, take place in times of tremendous political unrest and religious polarization. Within each milieu, individuals struggle to earn knowledge, a livelihood, respect, and friendship. Ghosh has made the obscurely historical vitally relevant and personal, exposing the deep, tangled roots that connect us inextricably to the past.
Kirkus Reviews
An engrossing chronicle of historical detection smoothly integrated into a subtly shaped picture of village life in modern Egypt; by an Indian novelist (The Circle of Reason, 1986) of great sensitivity and power. Enrolled as a cultural-anthropology graduate student at the University of Alexandria, Ghosh settled in 1980 into the Egyptian farming village of Lataifa. Two years earlier, he had become interested in ancient manuscripts found in a storeroom of a tenth- century Cairo synagogue; included in the cache were letters from a Jewish trader, who mentioned his Indian slave. Intrigued, Ghosh pursued the identity of his 12th-century countryman. The author's findings about the daily activities of slave and master make fascinating reading (e.g., that the slave represented his master in financial dealings), and alternating with this historical data are chapters detailing Ghosh's gradual assimilation into the life of Lataifa. His affectionate portraits of the villagers and of their often colorful idiosyncracies (for example, the complicated relationship between the Imam and his estranged first wife) attest to his perceptivity as a sympathetic observer of a rapidly changing society. In a particularly effective passage, he recounts his feelings when, after persistent questioning about his Hindu beliefs, he discovered in himself what he calls "Indians' terror of symbols." And Ghosh is equally astute in detailing the changes wrought by young villagers' departures for jobs in wartime Iraq. While new homes, refrigerators, TVs, and electric generators proliferate, he says, the weakening of family and civic ties proves a high price to pay. Throughout, Ghosh writes with enormous lucidity and flashesof gentle humor, conveying in small and telling details the underlying suspiciousness and insecurity that pervade Egyptian society. Moving in its humanity, revealing in its analyses: an exceptionally satisfying work.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307792266
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/20/2011
  • Series: Vintage Departures
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 451,534
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Amitav Ghosh is the internationally bestselling author of many works of fiction and non-fiction, including the novel The Glass Palace, and the recipient of numerous prizes and awards. He divides his time between Kolkata and Goa, India, and Brooklyn, New York.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2002

    Unique appraoch to writing

    All my attempts to classify this book proved futile. A scholarly view of scientific mode dissecting the anthropological evolution over nearly a millenium, or a novelist, rather a painter of words, discovering the microscopic fragments of history, weaving subtle bonds with the present. A literary work of a social antrhopologist, or a research work of a novelist, either way it is a unique moving book with universal appeal, revealing the common bond that unites mankind, over nearly a millenium and a few tens of thousands of miles, and succeeds in what it sets out to achieve, to show that uniformity and universality of humankind, something the author believes in himself. One word to describe it, BEAUTIFUL, that is what I felt after finishing it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2007

    BEST USE OF ENGLISH LITERATURE

    It was really a splendid reading this book. This books brings the best litereature out. This is how i think the book has to be written. Mr. Amitav has a Class of his own. I advise to read this. Its worth reading.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)