Review: The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh

The Hungry Tide is a beautiful story set in the Sundarbans; an archipelago of islands between the sea and the Bengal plains.  A natural and beautiful place where life is dictated by the high and low tides and where life can be both wonderful and very dangerous.

Between the sea and the plains of Bengal lies an immense archipelago of islands. Here, for hundreds of years, only the The Hungry Tidetruly dispossessed braved the man-eating tigers and the crocodiles that rule there, to eke out a precarious existence from the mud.  The settlers of the Sundarbans believe that anyone without a pure heart who ventures into the watery labyrinth will never return. (read more on GoodReads)

It begins with the arrival of two ‘outsiders’ who come to Lusibari for different reasons but who end up spending time together.  Kanai Dutt is asked by his aunty Nilima to return to Lusibari after 30 years away when his uncle Nirmal dies and a packet of writings is found addressed to Kanai.  Nilima asks him to make the trip from New Delhi to come and see to his uncle’s writings.

Piya Roy has travelled from America to try to study the rare Irrawaddy dolphin in its habitat and despite her Indian heritage is completely out of her element.  And then there is Fokir, born and raised in the Sundarbans, who spends his days trying to eke out a living as a fisherman expertly navigating the maze of river arteries that is the Sundarbans.  In what you could describe as fate or coincidence depending on your persuasion, these three characters embark on a kind of adventure of discovery.  Discovery of the awesome environment and power of nature, discovery of who they are and their pasts.

It is really a novel of discovery in all senses.  It is a beautiful people story set in an incredibly intriguing location which itself seems to be a character.  It is a novel to be immersed in and I found myself lost in it.  Ghosh writes beautifully and his descriptions are vivid.  You will be able to envision this place and its people perfectly because of his fabulous ability to weave words so that even this strange and distant place will feel familiar to you.

It was a very special book to me and it is easily one of my all time favourite books.  I really enjoyed it and I think it will appeal to many as it has a bit of romance, a bit of humour, a bit of adventure, and some drama.


lilolia review rating 4 stars great


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