Amitav Ghosh – “The Shadow Lines” – Published by John Murray // Hodder & Stoughton
“Embracing a Golden Heaven” is a picture shot from Lal ghat along the Ganges in Varanasi (Benaras).
It was selected to make the cover of “The Shadow Lines” a novel by Amitav Ghosh, published by John Murray // Hodder & Stoughton and it will be released in January 2011.
The Shadow Lines (1988) is a Sahitya Akademi Award-winning novel by Indian-Bengali writer Amitav Ghosh.
It is a book that captures perspective of time and events, of lines that bring people together and hold them apart, lines that are clearly visible on one perspective and nonexistent on another.
Lines that exist in the memory of one, and therefore in another’s imagination.
A narrative built out of an intricate, constantly crisscrossing web of memories of many people, it never pretends to tell a story.
Rather it invites the reader to invent one, out of the memories of those involved, memories that hold mirrors of differing shades to the same experience.
The novel is set against the backdrop of historical events like Swadeshi movement, Second World War, Partition of India and Communal riots of 1963-64 in Dhaka and Calcutta.
The novel follows the life of a young boy growing up in Calcutta and later on in Delhi and London.
His family – the Datta Chaudharis – and the Prices in London are linked by the friendship between their respective patriarchs – Justice Dattachaudhari and Alan Tresawsen.
The narrator adores Tridib because of his tremendous knowledge and his perspective of the incidents and places.
Tha’mma thinks that Tridib is type of person who seems ‘determined to waste his life in idle self-indulgence’, one who refuses to use his family connections to establish a career.
Unlike his grandmother, the narrator loves listening to Tridib.
For the narrator, Tridib’s lore is very different from the collection of facts and figures.
The narrator is sexually attracted to Ila but his feelings are passive.
He never expresses his feelings to her afraid to lose the relation that exist between them.
But one day he expresses his feelings when she was changing clothes in front of him being unaware of his feelings. She feels sorry for him.
Tha’mma does not like Ila.
‘Why do you always speak for that whore’ – She doesn’t like her grandson to support her.
Tha’mma has a dreadful past and wants to reunite her family and goes to Dhaka to bring back her uncle.
Tridib is in love with May and sacrificed his life to rescue her from Muslim mobs in the communal riots of 1963-64 in Dhaka.
The Shadow Lines won the Sahitya Akademi Award & the Ananda Puraskar.