Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Travel Reads: In an Antique Land by Amitav Ghosh

In an Antique Land by Amitav Ghosh is an assimilation of a travelogue, an insight into a piece of anthropology, memoir, fiction and a work of history. This book is divided into two parts. The first part describes Ghosh’s stay in two villages in Egypt from 1980 - 1981: Lataifa and Nashawy. He was there to write his dissertation. The second part is a fictional account of an Indian slave called Bomma and his master and Jewish merchant called Ben Yiju who lived in the twelfth century AD. In an astounding form of narration he describes life and trade between Egypt and India from the days of yore connecting them to the yesteryears (1980s).

Very few writers would succeed in this form of narration; the most amazing element of this book is Ghosh’s reflection and descriptions of village life in Egypt of the 1980s. He gives the reader a sneak peek into social customs, ethos and cuisine from this part of the world. Later he reconstructs history with fiction which is marvelous  It also reveals the various trade routes, settlements and other geographical and sociological details from the twelfth century. His knack of storytelling and flair for language undoubtedly make it a truly marvellous read on social realism.

(Article by Kabita Sonowal)

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