Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Gun Island - Book Review

Adventures of a Quiet Man 

Amitav Ghosh is my favorite writer. This book was another Ghosh magical journey deep inside the fragility and humanity of an ordinary and lonely Bengali Indian American. Ghosh beautifully brings Bengali geography, rivers, smells, colors and storms with various rural and city people of differing classes with the changing environment, pollution, wild life … all come together with a host of interesting characters.

Gun Island reminded me a lot of Ghosh’s non fiction 
In An Antique Land when chapters alternated between Ghosh’s present day experience in Egypt with the history of a Jewish trader who left Egypt to settle in India. In this case, the contemporary Indian American is attempting to decipher the mysteries of the story of a Jewish sea Capitan trader with his Indian freed slave across multiple continents.

Ghosh added to all of this a whole other layer which is that of the refugees, the migrants, who escape various third world countries for the better life and opportunities in Europe. As usual Ghosh paints vivid images of the horrific journeys across borders into Europe via Turkey or Egypt.

A couple of minor details irked me a bit. Ghosh employed some supernatural devices, while he did so with restraint, I felt they detracted from the novel. The other issue which bothered me more was most female characters, particularly Cinta, the Italian professor and main patron of the main character. Cinta came across too perfect, too saintly, the consistent powerful savior. Cinta was too cardboard like to be a Ghosh character.

Overall, loved it and highly recommend it!