Sea of Poppies

A Novel

The Ibis Trilogy (Volume 1)

Amitav Ghosh


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The first in an epic trilogy, Sea of Poppies is "a remarkably rich saga . . . which has plenty of action and adventure à la Dumas, but moments also of Tolstoyan penetration--and a drop or two of Dickensian sentiment" (The Observer [London]).

At the heart of this vibrant saga is a vast ship, the Ibis. Her destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean shortly before the outbreak of the Opium Wars in China. In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a diverse cast of Indians and Westerners on board, from a bankrupt raja to a widowed tribeswoman, from a mulatto American freedman to a free-spirited French orphan. As their old family ties are washed away, they, like their historical counterparts, come to view themselves as jahaj-bhais, or ship-brothers. The vast sweep of this historical adventure spans the lush poppy fields of the Ganges, the rolling high seas, and the exotic backstreets of Canton. With a panorama of characters whose diaspora encapsulates the vexed colonial history of the East itself, Sea of Poppies is "a storm-tossed adventure worthy of Sir Walter Scott" (Vogue).


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Book Excerpts

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SEA OF POPPIES (Chapter One)One

The vision of a tall-masted ship, at sail on the ocean, came to Deeti on an otherwise ordinary day, but she knew instantly that the apparition was a sign of destiny, for she had never seen such a vessel before, not even in a dream: how could she have, living as she did in northern Bihar, four hundred miles from the coast? Her village was so far inland that the sea seemed as distant as the netherworld: it was the chasm of darkness where the holy Ganga disappeared into the Kala-Pani, 'the Black Water'.

It happened at the end of winter, in a year when

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Amitav Ghosh's sentiments behind Sea of Poppies

Amitav Ghosh: Between the lines.

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Amitav Ghosh: The longest journey

The first in Amitav Ghosh's new trilogy of novels, Sea of Poppies is a stunningly vibrant and intensely human work that confirms his reputation as a master storyteller.

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Amitav Ghosh reads from Sea of Poppies (Part 1)

Amitav Ghosh reads from Sea of Poppies at Literati Bookshop in Goa, India.

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Amitav Ghosh reads from Sea of Poppies (Part 2)

Amitav Ghosh reads from Sea of Poppies at Literati Bookshop in Goa, India.

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Praise for Sea of Poppies

A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year A Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year A Washington Post Best Book of the Year An Economist Best Book of the Year


Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize

"A wonderful book, a large ambitious novel in which extraordinary people come to life and vibrant, exotic places are memorably depicted."--The Rocky Mountain News

"A delight . . . [Ghosh's] descriptions bring a lost world to life."--The Washington Post

“Brilliant...By the book’s stormy and precarious ending, most readers will clutch it like the ship’s rail awaiting, just like Ghosh’s characters, the rest of the voyage to a destination unknown.”--USA Today

"Ghosh's best and most ambitious work yet. . . . Ghosh writes with impeccable control, and with a vivid and sometimes surprising imagination."--The New Yorker

"Ghosh, on behalf of history, is unforgiving, but his novel is also a delight."--Miami Herald

"A storm tossed adventure worthy of Sir Walter Scott."--Vogue

"Amitav Ghosh's new novel speaks in tongues, marvelously capturing the polyglot nature of its characters. . . . Sea of Poppies is marvelous, its range and authority astonishing."--The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

"Sea of Poppies is a veritable cauldron of energy intermingling with craft."--Chicago Sun-Times

In the Press

"Sea of Poppies" - Must Read -
"Sea of Poppies," set in Calcutta, is a swashbuckling saga full of sadists, weaklings and tyrants -- and, thankfully, there are two more volumes to come.
- Salon

Opium Addicts, Beheaded Traders Crowd Ghosh's Shipboard Trilogy - Bloomberg
A devout Hindu mother is bathing in the Ganges when a schooner hulks into view with dazzling white sails and a figurehead of a long-billed bird. Terrified by this apparition -- she's never seen such a ship -- she rushes home to sketch the image and place it in her puja room of gods.
- Bloomberg

Amitav Ghosh Creates a New Language for 'Sea of Poppies' - Fall Preview 2008 -- New York Magazine
More fun than learning a new language: Reading one.
- New York Magazine

Reviews from Goodreads


About the Author

Amitav Ghosh

AMITAV GHOSH is the internationally bestselling author of many works of fiction and nonfiction, including the novel The Glass Palace, and the recipient of numerous prizes and awards. He divides his time among Kolkata and Goa, India, and Brooklyn, New York.

Amitav Ghosh

© Dayanita Singh

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Available Formats and Book Details

Sea of Poppies
A Novel
Amitav Ghosh


Man Booker Award - Nominee

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
September 2009
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312428594
ISBN10: 0312428596
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 560 pages, Includes one black-and-white map

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
September 2009
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429930819
ISBN10: 1429930810
528 pages, Includes a Map and Chrestomathy

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