only this time, it's Amitav Ghosh. For quite a few days, I was reading a chapter a day from Calcutta Chromosome. On Saturday, I casually resumed reading again, intending to put it down after a chapter or two, it was impossible. I just sat rooted to my chair turning page after page and went for lunch only after I was done. (That is quite a big thing, believe me)
When I was younger, I used to think that great writing was when you described lands you had never been to, people you had never met and creatures you had never seen in fantastic ways. Now I think it's the ability to take things firmly grounded in reality and mundanity and turn them into the kind of fiction that sets your imagination spinning and makes your eyes go wide while you're at it.
He puts together Ronald Ross, a supercomputer that has an insatiable appetite for information, genetics, Mangala devi, old time Calcutta, syphilis and philosophy in the most unfathomable ways and comes up with a great story. Who would have thought?
The first book of his that i'd read was 'The Shadow Lines'. Tridib is such a fall-in-lovable character. Sigh. The ending broke my heart and nearly made me cry.
Having studied in Egypt for a long period, he wrote about it so well in 'In an Antique Land' which is more like history laced with fiction. Being rudimentarily familiar with Arabic, his occasional uses of Arabic phrases made me nostalgic and gave the book a feel of reality. Makes me envy the Calcuttans considering both 'The Hungry Tide' and 'Calcutta Chromosome' are based thereabouts.
Found another book of his in the library a few months back, a thin volume called 'Countdown'. Its about how Indians don't recognize the danger potential of nuclear weapons and how misleading it is to think of nuclear power as a status symbol. About how many crores of rupees are wasted on the Siachen glacier, an uninhabitable, unhospitable and infertile area just for security, about how precarious the India-Pakistan nuclear situation is. He ends on a scary note, where he describes the damage that would result over increasing distances from the centre if a nuclear bomb were to explode at the Parliament House in Delhi. Very chilling.
I sent him a mail after reading 'Hungry Tide'. Didn't get a reply :'(
(Amitav Ghosh, Vikram Seth ( though I don't like his fiction much, I admire it for its versatility. I love his poetry! ), Amartya Sen.
Sushmita Sen, Aishwarya Rai, Kajol. (Yes, I do realize I'm leaving out quite a few people.)
From brains to beauty, the Bengalis seem to have it all. What could it be? The fish?)