Amitav Ghosh

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Amitav Ghosh

Amitav Ghosh by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Ghosh in 2017
Born (1956-07-11) 11 July 1956 (age 63) [1]
Kolkata, West Bengal, India
NationalityIndian [2]
Alma mater University of Delhi (B.A., M.A.)
University of Oxford (Ph.D.)
GenreHistorical fiction
Notable works The Shadow Lines , The Glass Palace , Sea of Poppies , River of Smoke , The Hungry Tide
Notable awards Jnanpith Award
Sahitya Akademi Award
Ananda Puraskar
Dan David Prize
Padma Shri
Spouse Deborah Baker (wife)

Amitav Ghosh (born 11 July 1956) [1] is an Indian writer and the winner of the 54th Jnanpith award, best known for his work in English fiction.



Ghosh in 2007 Amitav Ghosh by David Shankbone.jpg
Ghosh in 2007

Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta on 11 July 1956 and was educated at the all-boys boarding school The Doon School in Dehradun. He grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. His contemporaries at Doon included author Vikram Seth and historian Ram Guha. [3]

While at school, he regularly contributed fiction and poetry to The Doon School Weekly (then edited by Seth) and founded the magazine History Times along with Guha. [4] [5] [6]

After Doon, he received degrees from St. Stephen's College, Delhi University, and Delhi School of Economics.

He then won the Inlaks Foundation scholarship to complete a D. Phil. in social anthropology at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, under the supervision of British social anthropologist Peter Lienhardt. [7] The thesis, undertaken in the Faculty of Anthropology and Geography, was entitled "Kinship in relation to economic and social organization in an Egyptian village community" and submitted in 1982. [8]

Ghosh's first job was at the Indian Express newspaper in New Delhi.

Ghosh lives in New York with his wife, Deborah Baker, author of the Laura Riding biography In Extremis: The Life of Laura Riding (1993) and a senior editor at Little, Brown and Company. They have two children, Lila and Nayan.

He has been a fellow at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta and Centre for Development Studies in Trivandrum.

In 1999, Ghosh joined the faculty at Queens College, City University of New York, as Distinguished Professor in Comparative literature.

He has also been a visiting professor at the English department of Harvard University since 2005.

Ghosh subsequently returned to India began working on the Ibis trilogy which includes Sea of Poppies (2008), River of Smoke (2011), and Flood of Fire (2015).

He was awarded the Padma Shri by the Indian government in 2007. [9]

In 2009, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. [10] In 2015 Ghosh was named a Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellow. [11]



Ghosh is the author of The Circle of Reason (his 1986 debut novel), The Shadow Lines (1988), The Calcutta Chromosome (1995), The Glass Palace (2000), The Hungry Tide (2004), and Sea of Poppies (2008), the first volume of The Ibis trilogy, set in the 1830s, just before the Opium War, which encapsulates the colonial history of the East. Ghosh's River of Smoke (2011), is the second volume of The Ibis trilogy. The third, Flood of Fire , completing the trilogy, was published 28 May 2015 to positive reviews. [12] The Shadow Lines that won him the Sahitya Akademi Award "throws light on the phenomenon of communal violence and the way its roots have spread deeply and widely in the collective psyche of the Indian subcontinent". [13] Most of his work deals with historical settings, especially in the Indian Ocean periphery. In an interview with Mahmood Kooria, he said: "It was not intentional, but sometimes things are intentional without being intentional. Though it was never part of a planned venture and did not begin as a conscious project, I realise in hindsight that this is really what always interested me most: the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the connections and the cross-connections between these regions." [14]

Ghosh's most recent book, Gun Island, published in 2019 and dealing with climate change and human migration, drew praise [15] from critics. The Guardian however, noted Ghosh's tendency to go on tangents, calling it "a shaggy dog story" that "can take a very roundabout path towards reality, but it will get there in the end." [16]


Ghosh's notable non-fiction writings are In an Antique Land (1992), Dancing in Cambodia and at Large in Burma (1998), Countdown (1999), and The Imam and the Indian (2002, a large collection of essays on different themes such as fundamentalism, history of the novel, Egyptian culture, and literature). His writings appear in newspapers and magazines in India and abroad. His most-recent non-fiction book The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (2016) addresses why modern literature has failed to address issues of climate change, and how radical transformation due to nature has become 'unthinkable'.

Awards and recognition

The Circle of Reason won the Prix Médicis étranger, one of France's top literary awards. [17] The Shadow Lines won the Sahitya Akademi Award and the Ananda Puraskar. [18] The Calcutta Chromosome won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for 1997. [19] Sea of Poppies was shortlisted for the 2008 Man Booker Prize. [20] It was the co-winner of the Vodafone Crossword Book Award in 2009, as well as co-winner of the 2010 Dan David Prize. [21] River of Smoke was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2011. The government of India awarded him the civilian honour of Padma Shri in 2007. [22] He also received - together with Margaret Atwood - the Israeli Dan David Prize. [23]

Ghosh famously withdrew his novel The Glass Palace from consideration for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, where it was awarded the best novel in the Eurasian section, citing his objections to the term "commonwealth" and the unfairness of the English language requirement specified in the rules. [24]

Ghosh received the lifetime achievement award at Tata Literature Live, the Mumbai LitFest on November 20, 2016. [25] He was conferred the 54th Jnanpith award in December 2018 and is the first Indian writer in English to have been chosen for this honour. [26]


Related Research Articles

Jnanpith Award is an Indian literary award presented annually by the Bharatiya Jnanpith to an author for their "outstanding contribution towards literature". Instituted in 1961, the award is bestowed only on Indian writers writing in Indian languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India and English, with no posthumous conferral.

G. Sankara Kurup Indian Malayali poet and literary critic

G. Sankara Kurup, better known as Mahakavi G, was an Indian poet, essayist and literary critic of Malayalam literature. Known as one of the greats of Malayalam poetry, he was the first recipient of the Jnanpith Award―the highest Indian literary honor. He served as a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha from 1968 to 1972 and received the Padma Bhushan, the third highest Indian civilian award, in 1967. He was also a recipient of Sahitya Akademi Award, Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award and Soviet Land Nehru Award.

Shankha Ghosh Indian poet

Shankha Ghosh is a Bengali Indian poet and critic. Ghosh got his undergraduate degree in Arts in Bengali language from the Presidency College, Kolkata in 1951 and subsequently his master's degree from the University of Calcutta in the year 1954.

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Indian English literature (IEL), also referred to as Indian Writing in English (IWE), is the body of work by writers in India who write in the English language and whose native or co-native language could be one of the numerous languages of India. Its early history began with the works of Michael Madhusudan Dutt followed by R. K. Narayan, Mulk Raj Anand and Raja Rao who contributed to Indian fiction in the 1930s. It is also associated with the works of members of the Indian diaspora who are of Indian descent.

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<i>The Calcutta Chromosome</i> 1995 book by Amitav Ghosh

The Calcutta Chromosome is a 1995 English-language novel by Indian author Amitav Ghosh. The book, set in 1990s Calcutta and New York City at some unspecified time in the future, is a medical thriller that dramatizes the adventures of people who are brought together by a mysterious turn of events. The book is loosely based on the life and times of Sir Ronald Ross, the Nobel Prize–winning scientist who achieved a breakthrough in malaria research in 1898. The novel was the recipient of the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1997.

<i>The Shadow Lines</i> book by Amitav Ghosh

The Shadow Lines (1988) is a Sahitya Akademi Award-winning novel by Indian writer Amitav Ghosh. It is a book that captures perspective of time and events, of lines that bring people together and hold them apart; lines that are clearly visible from one perspective and nonexistent from another; lines that exist in the memory of one, and therefore in another's imagination. A narrative built out of an intricate, constantly crisscrossing web of memories of many people, it never pretends to tell a story. Instead, it invites the reader to invent one, out of the memories of those involved, memories that hold mirrors of differing shades to the same experience.

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Tushar Kanti Ghosh Indian newspaper editor and journalist

Tushar Kanti Ghosh was an Indian journalist and author. For sixty years, until shortly before his death, Ghosh was the editor of the English-language Amrita Bazar Patrika newspaper in Kolkata. He also served as the leader of prominent journalism organizations such as the International Press Institute and the Commonwealth Press Union. Ghosh was known as the "grand old man of Indian journalism" and "the dean of Indian journalism" for his contributions to the country's free press.

<i>The Glass Palace</i> Historical fiction novel by Amitav Ghosh

The Glass Palace is a 2000 historical novel by Indian writer Amitav Ghosh. The novel is set in Burma, Bengal, India, and Malaya, spans a century from the British invasion of Burma and the consequent fall of the Konbaung Dynasty in Mandalay, through the Second World War to late 20th century. Through the stories of a small number of privileged families, it illuminates the struggles that have shaped Burma, India and Malaya into the places they are today. It explores the various facets of the colonial period, including the economic fall of Burma, the rise of timber and rubber plantations, the moral dilemmas faced by Indians serving the British army, and the devastating effects of World War II. Focusing mainly on the early 20th Century, it explores a broad range of issues ranging from the changing economic landscape of Burma and India, to pertinent questions about what constitutes a nation and how these change as society is swept along by the tide of modernity.

<i>Sea of Poppies</i> Indian English novel

Sea of Poppies (2008) is a novel by Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2008. It is the first volume of the Ibis trilogy. In the words of Rajnish Mishra, "the Ibis trilogy is Ghosh's most vehement indictment of the source of imperialism and colonialism". The second volume is River of Smoke.

<i>River of Smoke</i> Indian English novel

River of Smoke (2011) is a novel by Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh. It is the second volume of the Ibis trilogy.

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Amish Tripathi is an Indian diplomat, columnist, and author. He is known for his books like Shiva Trilogy and Ram Chandra series. In 2017, Tripathi launched his first non-fiction book, Immortal India.

The Hindu Literary Prize or The Hindu Best Fiction Award, established in 2010, is an Indian literary award sponsored by The Hindu Literary Review which is part of the newspaper The Hindu. It recognizes Indian works in English and English translation. The first year, 2010, the award was called The Hindu Best Fiction Award. Starting in 2018 a non-fiction category was included.

Christopher J. Miller schoolmaster

Christopher J. Miller was an English academic, professor and scholar. He served as the third English headmaster of The Doon School, India from 1966 till 1970 and the last one before the appointment of Matthew Raggett in 2016. He had an MA from University of Cambridge. During his tenure at Doon, his protégé included: Vikram Seth, Karan Thapar, Amitav Ghosh, Ramchandra Guha.

<i>The Doon School Weekly</i>

The Doon School Weekly is a student newspaper produced by and for the students of The Doon School. It was established in 1936, a year after the school's founding, by the first headmaster Arthur Foot. The Weekly is the oldest and flagship publication of the school, and the newspaper's constitution grants it editorial independence.

The Ibis trilogy is a work of historical fiction by Amitav Ghosh. The story is set in the first half of the 19th century. It deals with the trade of opium between India and China run by the East India Company and the trafficking of coolies to Mauritius. It comprises Sea of Poppies (2008), River of Smoke (2011), and Flood of Fire (2015).

<i>Flood of Fire</i> book by Amitav Ghosh

Flood of Fire is a 2015 novel by Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh. Following the Sea of Poppies (2008) and River of Smoke (2011), the novel is the final installment of the Ibis trilogy, which concerns the 19th-century opium trade between India and China. The book was first published by the English publisher John Murray, and later by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in the United States. The novel was shortlisted for The Hindu Literary Prize and received the Crossword Book Jury Award in Fiction in 2015.

Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta

Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (CSSSC) is a social science and humanities research and teaching institute in Kolkata, West Bengal, India.


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  5. "Of nature, cricket, literature and history". 29 October 2017.
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  9. (PDF) . Retrieved 17 October 2008.Missing or empty |title= (help)[ dead link ]
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  13. by rajnishmishravns (26 January 2013). "Amitav Ghosh's The Shadow Lines as an Indian English Novel | rajnishmishravns". Retrieved 26 March 2019.
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  17. "Amitav Ghosh re-emerges with Sea of Poppies". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 24 May 2008. Archived from the original on 7 October 2008.
  18. "Amitav Ghosh". Archived from the original on 31 May 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2012.
  19. "Arthur C. Clarke Award |". Retrieved 28 May 2012.[ permanent dead link ]
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  21. Laureates 2010 – 2010 Present – Literature: Rendition of the 20th Century – Amitav Ghosh Archived 18 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  22. "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2015. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  23. Editorial, Reuters (28 April 2010). "Amitav Ghosh joint winner of $1 million Israeli prize". Reuters.
  24. Wild West at the London Book Fair| The Guardian Archived 5 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine
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