The Shadow Lines

( 5 )

Overview

Opening in Calcutta in the 1960s, Amitav 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, from the outbreak of World War II to the late twentieth century, through years of Bengali partition and violence, observing the ways in which political events invade private lives.

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The Shadow Lines: A Novel

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Overview

Opening in Calcutta in the 1960s, Amitav 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, from the outbreak of World War II to the late twentieth century, through years of Bengali partition and violence, observing the ways in which political events invade private lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With Proustian precision, the narrator of Ghosh's second novel after The Circle of Reason recalls the people and events that dominated his childhood in Calcutta in the '60s, and later in London, when those people, and the lasting influence of the events, come together in a circle of sorrow. The narrator focuses on two families known to each other since the time of the Raj: his own, in particular his cousin Ila and her young uncle Tridib, and the Prices, including the children May and Nick. Meticulously observant, he describes his school days, punctuated by visits with Tridib whose conversation, especially about his visits with the Prices, the boy will remember almost word for word or from Ila's family, who lived mostly abroad because her father was a diplomat. While the mystery at the tale's heart concerns Tridib's fate in the city of Dhaka during the summer of Bangladesh's Partition, in 1964, the effects of that crucial time--on the narrator, on May--do not unfold until nearly 20 years later. Such delayed understanding is the fuel that powers Ghosh's quiet, forceful writing, in which detail and memory are shown to shape our lives as effectively as events of global importance. Examining connectedness and separation, the author uses the fate of nations to offer observations about a profoundly human condition. May
Library Journal
In his splendid first novel, The Circle of Reason LJ 6/15/86, Ghosh touched on the themes of emigration, exile, and cultural displacement. Here, in language equally remarkable and even more refined, he weaves together the experiences of two families--one Bengali, the other English--to illustrate the hard reality and ultimate fragility of human boundaries. The narrator is an Indian boy whose identity is shaped by the stories he is told, and tells, about private lives and public events that span three generations. Moving back and forth through the 20th century by artful time shifts, the boy reaches beyond ``the seductive clarity of ignorance'' to ``a final redemptive mystery.'' Unlike the author's first novel, this is not a work of magical realism, but the magic not in the tale abounds in the telling.-- L.M. Lewis, Eastern Kentucky Univ., Richmond
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9788175300439
  • Publisher: South Asia Books
  • Publication date: 1/28/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

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.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2003

    Incredible Book

    This book is absolutely amazing. I have taken a course about the Partition of South Asia in 1947, and of the 8 books we read, this is by far the best. Ghosh is able to beautifully diplay the past and current relationships of India and Pakistan through the life and growth of a young Indian boy. This story, though describing Partition, can also stand by itself and provides invaluable insights into relationships of people, lovers, and nations.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2002

    Don't miss it

    Rarely one comes across a book that moves one's emotion and intellect with it's powerful yet beautiful and extremely poignant language. The story effortlessly moves back and forth in time, portraying the contrast of the times and places of the two stages of the protagonist's life, beautifully bringning the evolution of a character in particular and humanity in general. The characters of this story are too real to be fictitious, who are all very complex and yet simple enough to be idnetifiable with our own experiences. The climax is amazing, unpredictable, and very touching, living fully upto the expectations raised in the building up of it, and more. It leaves the reader with a twich of nostalgia that one feels after coming across a beautiful creation. DON'T MISS IT.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2008

    A reviewer

    'The Shadow Lines' is not a novel. It's a random anthology of anecdotes and dramatized essays. The narrator switches places at will. In an instance, the reader is taken from Calcutta to London and before long he's in Colombo. Dhaka, too, gets a look-in. Anyone who's looking for a story may not find it here. There are more than one but their style reminds of the subtle and imaginative works already read. If we like the style we would better go to the classics.

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

    Posted July 21, 2000

    in its own class

    GHosh creates his own narrative style. We are never clear where we are in time. He constantly fast forwards and rewinds twisting the story, fluidly, into a beautiful work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews

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