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The Hungry Tide Hardcover – 7 Jun 2004

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (7 Jun. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007141777
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007141777
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.6 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 154,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'An exceptional writer.' Peter Matthieson

'A distinctive voice, polished and profound' Times Literary Supplement

'An absorbing story of a world in transition, brought to life through characters who love and suffer with equal intensity.' JM Coetzee

'Ghosh has established himself as one of the finest prose writers of his generation of Indians writing in English' Financial Times

'Amitav Ghosh is such a fascinating and seductive writer…a deeply serious writer, sure of his human and historical insights and confident in his ability to communicate them. I cannot think of another contemporary writer with whom it would be this thrilling to go so far, so fast' The Times

From the Publisher

An Indian myth says that when the river Ganges first descended from the heavens, the force of the cascade was so great that the earth would have been destroyed if it had not been for the god Shiva, who tamed the torrent by catching it in his dreadlocks. It is only when the Ganges approaches the Bay of Bengal that it frees itself and separates into thousands of wandering strands. The result is the Sundarbans, an immense stretch of mangrove forest, a half-drowned land where the waters of the Himalayas merge with the incoming tides of the sea.

It is this vast archipelago of islands that provides the setting for Amitav Ghosh’s new novel. In the Sundarbans the tides reach more than 100 miles inland and every day thousands of hectares of forest disappear only to re-emerge hours later. Dense as the mangrove forests are, from a human point of view it is only a little less barren than a desert. There is a terrible, vengeful beauty here, a place teeming with crocodiles, snakes, sharks and man-eating tigers. This is the only place on earth where man is more often prey than predator.

And it is into this terrain that an eccentric, wealthy Scotsman named Daniel Hamilton tried to create a utopian society, of all races and religions, and conquer the might of the Sundarbans. In January 2001, a small ship arrives to conduct an ecological survey of this vast but little-known environment, and the scientists on board begin to trace the journeys of the descendants of this society. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Johan Klovsjö on 6 Jan. 2006
Format: Hardcover
The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh is a story about love and life, politics and ecology, nature weather and myth, set in the Ganghes/Brahmaputra delta in Sundabar, India. The language is straightforward, and the keeper is how the different topics are connected at the core.
A young scientist comes to the area researching river dolphins and gets caught up in a love triangle with the proud, educated, male visitor, and the 'wild' and simple, native, fisher. Through a notebook of the educated man's uncle we live through the story of not one but two generations on a similar theme in the area.
While the politics of the area are discussed, the nature is ever-imposing, eventually cataclysmically so, and the hearts of people never stop beating. The love story is very real, not romantic in any way. The end is quite gripping, and the story lingers. A great read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Parvati P. on 31 Dec. 2006
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed reading this book for its setting most of all. The boat journeys through the Sunderbans area of Bengal were very evocative and a joy to read. It's a pity Ghosh could not work the same magic in devising his characters. Like other readers I was not convinced by the attraction between Piya and Fokir, and did not really understand the relationship between Kanai and Piya. It was almost as if the Sundarbans was the main character and the characters Piya, Fokir and Kanai were the backdrop.

I was intrigued enough to keep going with the subplot of the uprising but felt it was an anticlimax when Kanai came to the end of his uncles book detailing the uprising involving Fokir's mother but without actually telling us what happened to her. And anyway I did not care enough about Kanai to relate the uprising to him. The book is well researched and well written, with interesting insights and beautiful descriptions, however without well-drawn characters it feels like a beautifully written essay rather than a novel. Still, one can enjoy an essay, too, so a well-deserved four stars for this one. As a lover of books about India, I find that Ghosh is a strong writer and I intend to read more of his work. I have just bought the highly acclaimed `Glass Palace'
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By The Wanderer on 5 Feb. 2008
Format: Paperback
"The Hungry Tide" is the latest novel from Indian-born author Amitav Ghosh. Set in the Sundarban archipelago in the delta of the River Ganges, it follows the experiences of two people after they meet on a train from Calcutta: Piya Roy, a young American marine biologist of Indian parentage; and middle-aged Kanai Dutt, a commercially successful interpreter and translator. Piya is arriving for the first time on a research trip to study the river dolphins of the Sundarbans; Kanai, on the other hand, is returning for the first time in many years, after a lost notebook left to him by his long-deceased uncle suddenly turns up. As outsiders, however, they both soon find that this environment is more alien to their ways of life than they once thought.

Ghosh's ability to evoke a sense of time and place is evident; his depiction of the 'tide country', as the Sundarban archipelago is often referred to, is excellent. The reader is shown a timeless place where history, myth and the present merge into one, in which Man and nature are locked in constant competition, vying for domination of the land. In stark contrast to this almost primitive struggle for survival, however, the author brings out the richness and diversity of these islands' culture in great detail. The Sundarbans themselves transcend geopolitical boundaries, lying as they do on the Indian-Bangladeshi border, and their culture reflects this, drawing on Hindu, Muslim and Christian traditions as much as local folklore.

A setting as fully realised as this requires strong characters to act as counterpoints. Unfortunately both Piya and Kanai come across as rather two-dimensional and struggle to hold the reader's interest. It is difficult to get a feel for the relationship between them or to understand the reasons behind their actions.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Malsingh on 29 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback
Every so often a book comes along that is so breathtakingly good that you never want it to end! This is how I felt about this book. Amitav Ghosh has clearly done his homework on the Sundarbans, and also on various other topics such as cyclones, tigers and river dolphins. The book is so filled with details because of this, that you will wonder if maybe the story is not fiction after all!

I disagree with the other reviewers who said that the characters are two dimensional and not well characterised. I think that you find out a lot about the characters throughout the book, but some of it is implied rather than said. Amitav Ghosh is an excellent writer who doesn't need to say "X was this" and "Y was that" to let you know about his characters. Though we are explicitly told a lot of information, it is also necessary for the reader to observe the way the characters act and react. I think that maybe the readers who did not feel a connection with the characters were not really paying attention.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Yuva on 8 Dec. 2006
Format: Paperback
The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh,.. focuses on Sunderbans - a vast archipelago of islands lying below Calcutta on the gulf between India and Bangladesh.

Two travellers venture into the Sunderbans - Piya, an American scientist of Indian descent, who is researching the endangered Urawaddy river dophins said to inhabit these tidal waters and Kanai - an urban New Delhi translator and businessman, who is visiting his aunt to receive an old notebook written by his uncle before he died mysteriously in a local uprising. Piya hires an illiterate boatman, Fokir, to guide her through the backwaters in her search for the dolphins and Kanai comes along to translate. The tension between the three rises and they each must learn about themselves as they face the dangers thrown at them by the Sunderban.

Book explains the history of the Sunderban region, the precarious ecology of the endangered river dolphins and the conservation projects surrounding the great Bengal tiger still living on these waterlogged islands. Kanai's uncle's notebook reveals the shocking story of the Morichjhapi incident, where tens of thousands of displaced refugees try and settle on one of the uninhabited islands but are violently evicted by the government in the name of conservation.

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.

The Hungry Tide is a compelling book about ordinary people bound together in an exotic place that can consume them all. It's the basest of human emotions, love, jealousy, pride, and trust.
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