Friday, September 23, 2005

The Glass Palace

I liked Amitav's hungry tides and thought that it was more to do with the back drop of the sundarbans than amitav's writing. But now i accept this guy is a good story teller. Actually he is a relentless story teller. He could have easily written this book for another 1000 pages.

In this novel amitav tells the story of two familes. The raha's and the dey's. This family saga spans almost a century. The book takes us through the various political changes of burma like the british occupation, japanese and Indian national armies march, to the latest military junta that is occupying the country and the effect on of all these on the families.

Again he sets the story on fascinating backdrops and explains various lesser know facts detaily. He takes us to the teak forests of burma, the rubber plantations of malayasia, the bay of ratnagiri, madalay, rangoon and calcutta.The backdrops gives an adventure/travelouge book feel to it at times.
Gianiji an ex army officer support's the resistanc movement in india, when asked why he is supporting the resistance movement now, when he as a army officer obeyed the orders of the british officers.for that he says

'You dont understand. we never thought that we were being used to conquer people.Not at all: we thought the opposite. we were told that we were freeing those people.That is what they said-that we were going to set those people free from the bad kings or their evil customer or some such thing. we believed it because they beleived it too.It took us a long time to understand that in their eyes freedom exists where ever they rule'.
Sounds so familiar isn't it.

Amitav takes a strong stand against the highhandedness and double talk of the western powers.Also through various characters you can feel amitav's resentment against the british power and the indian soldiers who carried out there orders without any consciousness.
Arjun talks to an indian sepoy, who was a peasent before joining the army.
what makes you fight?. I would ask them,'when you should be planting your fields at home?. 'Money' they would say and yet all they earned was a few annas a day not much more than a dockyard coolie.For a few coins they would allow their master to use them as they wished to destroy every trace of resistance to the power of the english. It always amazed me: Chinese peasants would never do this -allow themselves to be used to fight other people's wars with so little profit for themselves.I would look into those faces and I would ask myself what would it be like if I had something to defend-a home, a country, a family-and I found myself attacked by these ghostly men, these trusting boys?. How do you fight an enemy who fights from neither enmity nor anger but in submission to orders from superiors, without protest and without consciousness.
In some not so important statements he mentions about the tamils here and there. Even those unimportant lines were of interesting information for me.He tells how the tamils contributed to the growth of burma and malaysia. how the malaysian plantation workers(many tamils) were considered as a race not fit for soldering by the british.
how they died in the rubber plantations to earn a few annas.
I have heard what all the experts say.But the tappers know better.They have a saying, you know -Every rubber tree in malayala was paid for with an indian life'.

At the start the book was slow and very character oriented, then it becomes pacy and more event oriented. At the end amitav seemed to be in a rush to complete the book. The more important incidents that happened later are skipped with a fewer mention, whereas he takes lot of time to explain the incidents that happen at the start.
A british officer talks to arjun, an indian officer.
I dont know what your own feelings are,Roy but you should know that as far as the thrust of british opinion goes, independence for india is just a matter of time. Everyone knows that the days of Empire are over-we're not fools,you know .That last thing an ambitious young englishman wants to do today is to go out to a backwater. The americans have been telling us for years that we're going about this the wrong way. One doesn't have to keep up an empire with all the paraphernalia of an administration and an army. There are easier and more efficient ways to keep a grip on things-it can be done at less expense and with much less bother.

Amitav's remarks of the imperialistic nature of western powers made me think,India is raising, china is raising, but why are they not joining hands and taking on the western powers?.why is that the asian countires are always fighting within themselves?.Are we still being divided and ruled??.Many question's poped up in my mind.Iam still sleeping over them.That is to say that this book might look like a simple family saga.But it is not, there is a strong message underneath.

The book is multilayered.A page turner and an interesting read.

Amitav rejects prize consideration for glass palace
Amitav interview on glass palace
Interview with kavitha chibber
amitav audio interview
Amitav website

senthil really super
'they believe freedom exist wherever they rule' prophetic words I say
What attracts me to the books is the author's name first and then the book cover. This one looks so good. So I shall buy it. :-)

Never read any Amitav Ghosh works before. Hey, how do you find time to read all these and watch movies? I envy you!
ill have to this, but rwad hungry tide, really good book, nice story,
in this book i presume the historical events will the story thru?? but the beauty is how he weaves human emotios into the story, especially in hungry tide

Amitav gosh is an important name in the contemporary writers and offcourse u said the cover is good.u have to read this then :).I get all the time, cause i dont have nothing else to do :).

The back ground is not as facinating as hunfry tide.But lot of emotions... in this one
Nice one.
History certainly repeats itself doesn't it? Whether it's our sepoys under the Brits or U.S Marines being brainwashed by uncle sam, its all a veil of deceit and suppression......
BTW, the book looks interesting, shall get a copy.....
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