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Gun Island

A Novel

Amitav Ghosh


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ISBN10: 1250757932
ISBN13: 9781250757937

Trade Paperback

320 Pages


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Bundook. Gun. A common word, but one that turns Deen Datta’s world upside down.

A dealer of rare books, Deen is used to a quiet life spent indoors, but as his once-solid beliefs begin to shift, he is forced to set out on an extraordinary journey; one that takes him from India to Los Angeles and Venice via a tangled route through the memories and experiences of those he meets along the way. There is Piya, a fellow Bengali-American who sets his journey in motion; Tipu, an entrepreneurial young man who opens Deen’s eyes to the realities of growing up in today’s world; Rafi, with his desperate attempt to help someone in need; and Cinta, an old friend who provides the missing link in the story they are all a part of. It is a journey that will upend everything he thought he knew about himself, about the Bengali legends of his childhood, and about the world around him.

Amitav Ghosh‘s Gun Island is a beautifully realized novel that effortlessly spans space and time. It is the story of a world on the brink, of increasing displacement and unstoppable transition. But it is also a story of hope, of a man whose faith in the world and the future is restored by two remarkable women.


Praise for Gun Island

"A brave experiment in bringing climate change to action-adventure readers . . . Ghosh challenges the writers among us to remember that throughout history we have dealt with crises by telling ourselves stories."Melanie Finn, The New York Times Book Review

"Gun Island deals with two of the biggest issues of the current moment: climate change and human migration. But it’s not homework. Ghosh is mindful of his task as a novelist—to entertain. The confidence with which he shapes a good, old-fashioned diversion around these particular poles is instructive . . . That Ghosh is able to sustain the book’s momentum when its primary inquiry is so cerebral is no mean feat. The novel made me think of A.S. Byatt’s Possession, or Tom Stoppard’s best plays . . . The truth is stranger than fiction, and Gun Island is a novel for our times."Rumaan Alam, The Washington Post

"How can novelists address climate change without turning their books into seminars? Mr. Ghosh’s neat trick is to fold the subject into a juicy (if somewhat breathless) academic mystery of the sort popularized by Umberto Eco . . . The more puzzle pieces [Deen] fits together, the more chaos he reveals—which makes for an accurate depiction of the world as we know it."Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

"A tender, attentive and engaging account of the ways in which an individual sensibility might be altered by ironies of history, chance alliances and climatological mutations . . . Gun Island is a rich and rewarding novel that reaffirms the transformative power of topographical and human connection, and registers the rhythms of the quiet and the unquiet life."—Matthew Adams, The Spectator (London)

"A novel that is as contemporary and compelling as can be . . . Ghosh has emerged in rude writing health from the 19th century world of opium trade. Taut and gripping, Gun Island is a parable for our times."—Soumya Bhattacharya, Hindustan Times

“In The Great Derangement, Amitav Ghosh, an important international writer, asked why writers avoid the foremost subject in our lives—climate change. In Gun Island it is unmistakably the central issue. With sweeping exuberant style and extraordinary linguistic facility, Ghosh takes us into a world where desperate refugees trickle through borders like water from melting ice, but where massing animals find no escapes. Old legends and ancient myths take on new meaning. The difficulties of characters in the Sundarbans begin to appear the world over as the climate becomes a forcing element. Our ordinary lives with air travel, cell phones, friends in distant places, smart-mouth teenagers, life insurance, money and investment concerns intersect with forest fire, flooding, storms. This important novel is an account of our current world, the one few writers have had the courage to face.”—Annie Proulx, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction

“Amitav Ghosh’s Gun Island is an extraordinary reading experience from one of our greatest living storytellers. Ghosh masterfully collocates disparate worlds to create a story of family, self, history, and destiny. I'm in awe.”—Neel Mukherjee, author of A State of Freedom

"In the face of apocalyptic climate change, an Indian immigrant searches for the truth behind a Bengali legend . . . [Ghosh] blends elements of journalism, folklore, science, and history to describe a world on the verge of catastrophe . . . Involving and intricate, [Gun Island] speaks urgently to a time growing ever more perilous.”Kirkus Reviews

"[Gun Island] is an intellectual romp that traces Bengali folklore, modern human trafficking, and the devastating effects of climate change across generations and countries . . . Ghosh writes with deep intelligence and illuminating clarity about complex issues. This ambitious novel memorably draws connections among history, politics, and mythology."Publishers Weekly


Read an Excerpt


The strangest thing about this strange journey was that it was launched by a word – and not an unusually resonant one either but a banal, commonplace coinage that is in wide circulation, from Cairo to Calcutta. That word is...

About the author

Amitav Ghosh

Amitav Ghosh is the author of the acclaimed and bestselling Ibis trilogy, which includes Sea of Poppies (short-listed for the 2008 Man Booker Prize), River of Smoke, and Flood of Fire, all published by FSG. His other novels include The Circle of Reason, which won the Prix Médicis étranger, and The Glass Palace. He was awarded the Padma Shri by the Indian government in 2007 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2009. He lives in India.

Ivo van der Bent

Amitav Ghosh

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