A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
A Washington Post Notable Fiction Book of Year
A NPR Best Book of the Year
In Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies, the Ibis began its treacherous journey across the Indian Ocean, bound for the cane fields of Mauritius with a cargo of indentured servants. Now, in River of Smoke, the former slave ship flounders in the Bay of Bengal, caught in the midst of a deadly cyclone.
The storm also threatens the clipper ship Anahita, groaning with the largest consignment of opium ever to leave India for Canton. Meanwhile, the Redruth, a nursery ship, carries horticulturists determined to track down the priceless botanical treasures of China. All will converge in Canton's Fanqui-town, or Foreign Enclave, a powder keg awaiting a spark to ignite the Opium Wars. A spectacular adventure, but also a bold indictment of global avarice, River of Smoke is a consuming historical novel with powerful contemporary resonance.
AMITAV GHOSH is the internationally bestselling author of many works of fiction and nonfiction, including The Glass Palace, The Great Derangement, and the Ibis Trilogy (Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke, and Flood of Fire). He is the recipient of numerous awards and prizes. Ghosh divides his time between Kolkata and Goa, India, and Brooklyn, New York.
“No writer in modern India has held a novelistic lamp to the subcontinent's densely thicketed past as vividly and acutely as Amitav Ghosh . . . River of Smoke, the second volume of his ambitious Ibis trilogy, is the work of a writer with a historical awareness and an appetite for polyphony that are equal to the immense demands of the material he seeks to illuminate . . . Evenly written and engaging.” —Chandrahas Choudhury, The New York Times Book Review
“With River of Smoke, Ghosh's Ibis trilogy is emerging as a monumental tribute to the pain and glory of an earlier era of globalization, an era when people came into contact and collision, intermixing costumes, customs, convictions, consonants, couplings and cash, shaping history all the while through their pettiness, their privations and their passions.” —Shashi Tharoor, The Washington Post
“Like a wonderful multicoloured tapestry Ghosh has woven a story made up of a series of vibrant threads made from a multitude of materials . .. River Of Smoke is a wonderful mixture of people, places and story that captures a moment in history like an insect snared in amber. All the details are there for the reader to see and appreciate.” —Richard Marcus, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“Spellbinding and astute, Ghosh continues the nineteenth-century historical saga about the opium trade that he launched with Sea of Poppies (2008). This is an even more fluid and pleasurable tale, however dire its conflicts, and stands firmly on its own, though readers shouldn't miss the first installment . . . With one more novel to go, Ghosh's epic trilogy is on its way to making literary history.” —Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
“Ghosh sets the second volume of his Ibis trilogy in 1838, appropriately enough, because at heart he's a 19th-century novelist with a sweeping vision of character and culture...Ghosh triumphs both through the clarity of his style and the sweep of his vision, and he leaves the reader eager for volume three.” —Kirkus Reviews
“On one level, [River of Smoke] is a remarkable feat of research, bringing alive the hybrid customs of food and dress and the competing philosophies of the period with intimate precision; on another it is a subversive act of empathy, viewing a whole panorama of world history from the 'wrong' end of the telescope. The real trick, though, is that it is also fabulously entertaining.” —Tim Adams, The Observer (London)
“Eloquent . . . Fascinating . . . [River of Smoke's] strength lies in how thoroughly Ghosh fills out his research with his novelistic fantasy, seduced by each new situation that presents itself and each new character, so that at their best the scenes read with a sensual freshness as if they were happening now.” —Tessa Hadley, The Guardian
“[This] vast book has a Dickensian sweep of characters, high- and low-life intermingling . . . Ghosh conjures up a thrilling sense of place.” —The Economist
“Ghosh's best and most ambitious work yet . . . [He] writes with impeccable control, and with a vivid and sometimes surprising imagination.” —The New Yorker on Sea of Poppies
“A delight . . . [Ghosh is] a writer of uncommon talent who combines literary flair with a rare seriousness of purpose . . . His descriptions bring a lost world to life.” —Shashi Tharoor, The Washington Post Book World on Sea of Poppies
“Brilliant . . . By the book's stormy and precarious ending, most readers will clutch it like the ship's rail awaiting, just like Ghosh's characters, the rest of the voyage to a destination unknown.” —Don Oldenburg, USA Today on Sea of Poppies