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The Shadow Lines: A Novel Paperback – May 3, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (May 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 061832996X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618329960
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With Proustian precision, the narrator of Ghosh's second novel (after The Circle of Reason ) recalls the people and events that dominated his childhood in Calcutta in the '60s, and later in London, when those people, and the lasting influence of the events, come together in a circle of sorrow. The narrator focuses on two families known to each other since the time of the Raj: his own, in particular his cousin Ila and her young uncle Tridib, and the Prices, including the children May and Nick. Meticulously observant, he describes his school days, punctuated by visits with Tridib (whose conversation, especially about his visits with the Prices, the boy will remember almost word for word) or from Ila's family, who lived mostly abroad because her father was a diplomat. While the mystery at the tale's heart concerns Tridib's fate in the city of Dhaka during the summer of Bangladesh's Partition, in 1964, the effects of that crucial time--on the narrator, on May--do not unfold until nearly 20 years later. Such delayed understanding is the fuel that powers Ghosh's quiet, forceful writing, in which detail and memory are shown to shape our lives as effectively as events of global importance. Examining connectedness and separation, the author uses the fate of nations to offer observations about a profoundly human condition.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In his splendid first novel, The Circle of Reason ( LJ 6/15/86), Ghosh touched on the themes of emigration, exile, and cultural displacement. Here, in language equally remarkable and even more refined, he weaves together the experiences of two families--one Bengali, the other English--to illustrate the hard reality and ultimate fragility of human boundaries. The narrator is an Indian boy whose identity is shaped by the stories he is told, and tells, about private lives and public events that span three generations. Moving back and forth through the 20th century by artful time shifts, the boy reaches beyond "the seductive clarity of ignorance" to "a final redemptive mystery." Unlike the author's first novel, this is not a work of magical realism, but the magic not in the tale abounds in the telling.
- L.M. Lewis, Eastern Kentucky Univ., Richmond
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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

Ghosh is also a humorous writer.
"filmcatqueen"
The characters of this story are too real to be fictitious, who are all very complex and yet simple enough to be idnetifiable with our own experiences.
Manojendu Choudhury
If you put this book down then picking it up and making sense is difficult.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By "filmcatqueen" on December 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
"The Shadow Lines" by Amitav Ghosh was written when the homes of the Sikhs were still smoldering, some of the most important questions the novel probes are the various faces of violence and the extent to which its fiery arms reach under the guise of fighting for freedom. Ghosh's treatment of violence in Calcutta and in Dhaka is valid even today, more than ten years after its publication. What has happened recently in Kosovo and in East Timor show that answers still evade the questions, which Ghosh poses about freedom, about the very real yet non-existing lines, which divide nations, people, and families.
The story of the family and friends of the nameless narrator who for all his anonymity comes across as if he is the person looking at you quietly from across the table by the time the story telling is over and silence descends. Before that stage arrives the reader is catapulted to different places and times at breath taking tempo. The past, present and future combine and melt together erasing any kind of line of demarcation. Such lines are present mainly in the shadows they cast. There is no point of reference to hold on to. Thus the going away - the title of the first section of the novel - becomes coming home - the title of the second section. These two titles could easily have been exchanged.
The narrator is very much like the chronicler Pimen in Pushkin's drama Boris Godonow. But unlike Pushkin's Pimen this one is not a passive witness to all that happens in his presence, and absence. The very soul of the happenings, he is the comma which separates yet connects the various clauses of life lived in Calcutta, London, Dhaka and elsewhere.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Prof. G.R. Taneja on February 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
The new Indian English fiction of the eighties is free from the self-consciousness, shallow idealism, and sentimentalism that characterised the work of the older generation of novelists such as Raja Rao, R. K. Narayan or Mulk Raj Anand who started writing in the thirties. The fiction of the eighties takes a maturer view of Indian reality. There is freshness and vitality and the writ-ers betray remarkable confidence in tackling new themes, and experiment with new techniques and approaches to handle those themes. Amitav Ghosh, whose first novel, The Circle of Reason appeared in 1986, has strengthened the new English novel in more than one way. The Shadow Lines takes us into the mnemonic fund of a young narrator who as a wide-eyed adolescent hero-worshipped Tridib, an uncle, who fed him on his memories of his one visit to London during the war; and his grandmother who shared with him her nostalgic memories of East Bengal where she was born and spent her childhood. And then there is Ila (his cousin, for whom he nurtures a secret passion), who travels all over the world with her diplomat glob-trotting parents and occasionally comes home to tell a wonderstruck boy accounts of her peregrinations abroad. Their memories "form a part of my secret map of the world, a map of which only I know the keys and coordinates, but which was not for that reason any more imaginary that the code of a safe to a banker." From the three whose memories form his own consciousness, he learns to see in different ways. Ila sees much but experiences little. With her superficial response to life, she only remem-bers how one airport differed from the other by its less or more conveniently located ladies'.Read more ›
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Manojendu Choudhury on August 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Rarely one comes across a book that moves one's emotion and intellect with it's powerful yet beautiful and extremely poignant language. The story effortlessly moves back and forth in time, portraying the contrast of the times and places of the two stages of the protagonist's life, beautifully bringning the evolution of a character in particular and humanity in general. The characters of this story are too real to be fictitious, who are all very complex and yet simple enough to be idnetifiable with our own experiences. The climax is amazing, unpredictable, and very touching, living fully upto the expectations raised in the building up of it, and more. It leaves the reader with a twich of nostalgia that one feels after coming across a beautiful creation. DON'T MISS IT.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Aditya Dua on December 30, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful piece of work. I was off to a slow start - but after the few pages I got so engrossed in the book, I couldn't put it down till I had finished it. Events from different eras, and happening in different parts of the world are beautifully woven into a coherent narrative. I was really impressed by this unique style of traversing space and time in a non-linear fashion. The main characters are well etched out.
The book would be best appreciated by those who have spent time in India (and know of its unique lifestyle!) and have also had a taste of the western world. However, it is a wonderfully told story, and I would recommend it to one and all.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By "speeedz3" on February 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
If I have to name the singlemost life altering reading experience, The Shadow Lines will be it. Given the present political situation, every Indian with even half a claim at intelligence must read this book. But despite its grounding in politics and history, the story is a most personal account of a little boy's life who drifts back and forth between Calcutta and Dhaka...and his journey where he encounters lines and barriers of all kinds, only to find that they're all but...shadow lines. Amitav Ghosh writes with a flair and a command over the language that most other authors can only dream of.
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