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The Hungry Tide: A Novel Hardcover – May 3, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (May 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618329978
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618329977
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #685,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. One doesn't so much read Ghosh's masterful fifth novel as inhabit his characters and the alluring if treacherous Sundarban archipelago, "the ragged fringe of [India's] sari," where it is set. The author's nuanced descriptions of the moods and microenvironments of the islands serve as a lush backdrop for an intricate narrative that moves fluidly between past and present. Hoping to make her mark in the cetological world, Piyali Roy, an Indian-American marine biologist, travels across the Sundarbans in search of the once plentiful Irrawaddy dolphin. Piyali befriends both an illiterate fisherman, Fokir, who leads her to a dolphin-rich river enclave, and a successful interpreter, Kanai Dutt, who has arrived in the region from New Delhi to retrieve his deceased uncle Nirmal's journal. Through Nirmal, a Rilke-quoting former school headmaster and erstwhile revolutionary, Ghosh recounts the history of the islands with an unsentimental melancholy. Nirmal's account of the true story of the 1979 siege of Morichjhapi, in which destitute squatters were brutally evicted by the Indian government in order to preserve a wildlife sanctuary, poignantly displays the author's gift for traversing the fiction/nonfiction boundary. Ghosh (The Glass Palace, etc.), however, is uninterested in setting up simple good/evil binaries and instead weds the issues of love, language and land to the unfolding relationships among Piyali, Fokir and Kanai. The philosophical and moral implications of their actions remain simmering just below the surface. The climactic ending, in which a cyclone threatens the inhabitants of the Sundarbans, underscores Nirmal's observation that "nothing escapes the maw of the tides."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Man-eating tigers, river dolphins, crocodiles, mangrove forests, lunar rainbows, and the great cosmic metronome of the sweeping tides that inundate the Sundarbans, a vast archipelago in the Bay of Bengal, these are the marvels Ghosh orchestrates in this entrancing tale about the conflict between wildness and civilization, thus following his internationally acclaimed historical saga, The Glass Palace (2001), with another triumph of gorgeous writing, intelligent romance, and keen philosophical inquiries. His characters are just as alluring as the setting, and the chemistry among them is just as complex and powerful as the natural forces they confront. Piya Roy, a self-possessed cetologist born in India but raised in America, is searching for an increasingly rare river dolphin, and she finds the ideal assistant in fisherman Fokir. Kanai, an urbane translator from Kolkata, is visiting his formidable aunt, who gives him his late uncle's harrowing account of a violent confrontation between government officials and refugees who settled in a wildlife preserve. Through his characters' very different mind-sets, Ghosh posits urgent questions about humankind's place in nature in an atmospheric and suspenseful drama of love and survival that has particular resonance in the aftermath of the December 2004 tsunami. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta in 1956 and raised and educated in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Iran, Egypt, India, and the United Kingdom, where he received his Ph.D. in social anthropology from Oxford. Acclaimed for fiction, travel writing, and journalism, his books include The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In an Antique Land, and Dancing in Cambodia. His previous novel, The Glass Palace, was an international bestseller that sold more than a half-million copies in Britain. Recently published there, The Hungry Tide has been sold for translation in twelve foreign countries and is also a bestseller abroad. Ghosh has won France's Prix Medici Etranger, India's prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the Pushcart Prize. He now divides his time between Harvard University, where he is a visiting professor, and his homes in India and Brooklyn, New York.

Customer Reviews

It's beautifully and lovingly written.
Susan Taylor
The pace of the book is slow and even but never dull; things start happening and keep happening, unrolling like the river that is such an important part of this story.
The Amester
The story itself is quite absorbing and the characters are well developed.
Kaushik Sridharan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Janis Rothermel on May 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I had never heard of the Sundarbens prior to reading this book. I will never forget them after reading it. I could not put this book down, and it is on my list of best books for the past year. The characters come from different places, yet come together through fate and circumstances. Ghosh gives us love stories interwoven throughout, and actually until the end we are not sure how these will play out. He writes great adventure and nature scenes, and introduces natural elements that most will not be familiar with. He will make you think about the environment and its inhabitants in several different ways (spoiler-tigers and residents, dolphins and residents-compare and contrast). It will make you think of your own hospitality. It has spirituality and myth interwoven throughout as well as their expression in poetry. Yet somehow all these different elements come together in the geographic setting of the story. The storm scenes will remain etched on my mind for years to come (compare it to the storm in The Perfect Storm). This book will make you look at what is most important posession wise in times of crisis and during regular times. His characters are well developed and defined, and I could picture each and everyone in my mind's eye. They are unforgettable. I cannot recommend this book enough, but at the same time I don't want to provide any spoilers. Brilliant writing. Confirms my own belief that India will be my next big trip. Take a chance on a book that is very different and just read it, you will be hungry for more!
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Aleksandra Nita-Lazar on April 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
"The Hungry Tide" is the first novel by Amitav Ghosh I read. I am very interested in India and read a lot of Indian authors, but somehow Ghosh had escaped my attention. Till now - because now I will definitely read his other books.

I was drawn to "The Hungry Tide" by its setting - the action takes place in the Sundarbans, the archipelago in the Bengal Bay, at the mouth of the Ganges, partially belonging to India and partially to Bangladesh, where the fresh river water mixes with the saltwater from the ocean. The tides make the Sundarbans a difficult place to live for humans, but, at the same time, a unique habitat for fauna and flora. The mangrove swamps are dominant, and they provide the shelter for many species of animals, which are specific to the region or very rare in other areas. The example is the Royal Bengal Tiger, a man-eater, featuring in "The Hungry Tide" together with several species of dolphins and deadly crocodiles.

The novel starts with the meeting of two main characters, Piyali (Piya), an Indian-American field biologist specialized in dolphins, and Kanai, a sophisticated interpreter and businessman, on the train to Canning. Piya has a plan to collect data on the life of the rare river dolphins, which are the subject of her research. Kanai was summoned by his aunt, Nilima, to the island of Lusibari (he spent there only one summer as a schoolboy), where she runs a charity, to get the package left to him in the will of his late uncle, Nirmal, a leftist schoolteacher with literary ambitions. Kanai is interested in Piya, and when they part in Canning, he invites her to Lusibari.

From this point, the narration is separated into alternating chapters devoted to the doings of Piya and Kanai.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful By M. Abhijit on October 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Amitav Ghosh is a master of the genre "Fictionalized Thesis". Before this one he excelled in ' In An Antique Land' in mixing fiction with facts gathered through painstaking research and the synergy turns out to be extraordinarily capable of conveying the message creating the desired effect. Though he extensively deals with science, Ghosh has appeared to nurture mystic elements within his basic views of the world, history. He seems to believe in destiny and recognizes omen as would be evident through his 'Calcutta Chromosome' also. His perception of history has its full quota of heroes. As he lamented in 'Dancing in Cambodia At Large in Burma' that the postmodern world has taken away from the middle class its heroes, here (in Hungry Tides) he is very firm in acknowledging them in his definition of things. And, as always, with a quotation of Rilke here and a passionate interpretation of his own there, he enthralls the poetically oriented one to one's heart's content.

Sundarbans, a vast forest that insulates the inland of lower Bengal in India from the ocean, is slowly being denuded of its bio-diversity; the ecological balance is seriously being threatened. And all these are because the life of the ordinary, extremely poor people living there do not count for anything to the political establishments. As the scientist Mr. Piddington warned, if the forest is itself endangered that is certainly to diminish the possibility of Calcutta being protected any more against the devastating oceanic storms of Bay of Bengal. Interestingly that threat of a sad destiny where the guilty will not be spared destruction is hinted at very clearly through a metaphorical local tale of Bon-bibi and Dakshin Rai among the dwellers of Sundarbans.
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