Sea of Poppies

Written by:
Amitav Ghosh
Narrated by:
Phil Gigante

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
October 2008
18 hours 18 minutes
A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2008
A Chicago Tribune Best Book of 2008
A Washington Post Best Book of 2008
An Economist Best Book of 2008
A New York Best Book of 2008
A Christian Science Monitor Best Book of 2008
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2008
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize

At the heart of this vibrant saga is a vast ship, the Ibis. Its destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean; its purpose, to fight China's vicious nineteenth-century Opium Wars. As for the crew, they are a motley array of sailors and stowaways, coolies and convicts.

In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a diverse cast of Indians and Westerners, from a bankrupt raja to a widowed tribeswoman, from a mulatto American freedman to a freespirited 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. An unlikely dynasty is born, which will span continents, races, and generations.

The vast sweep of this historical adventure spans the lush poppy fields of the Ganges, the rolling high seas, the exotic backstreets of Canton. But it is the panorama of characters, whose diaspora encapsulates the vexed colonial history of the East itself, that makes Sea of Poppies so breathtakingly alive—a masterpiece from one of the world's finest novelists.
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Superb story and exceptional narration. I had never heard of the author Amitav Ghosh before my wife and I settled into Pistoia, a smallish town in the heart of Tuscany, for a five week stay. We envisioned Pistoia as a pleasant refuge and convenient haven on the rail lines between more famous parts of Italy- Rome, Florence, Venice, Pisa, etc. However, as we explored this town we found ourselves enchanted by the people, the architecture and the art. We were surprised to learn that, at month’s end, Pistoia was to play host to the 14th Annual Pistoia Dialogues, an international celebration of anthropology, the humanities and environmental justice. 2023’s recipient of the Dialogue’s recognition was none other than Amitav Ghosh. This was the impetus for my surprised and surprising discovery of a distinguished author who has been writing for forty years. I found myself enthralled by the humanity, compassion, and breadth of Gosh’s writing which incorporates within itself immense landscapes, historical epochs, and the cruelty and compassion of human relationships that really has few parallels in literary efforts. Sea of Poppies is the third Ghosh novel I have read in a short time. It begins one such fictional account that presents the very real human and environmental saga of the opium trade by depicting the deliberate, cynical exploitation of human beings on an intimate scale that makes it impossible to overlook the tragic impact both then and now. The fact that, more than 150 years later, our world continues to be ravaged by an “opioid crisis” speaks to the terrible destruction caused by human exploitation of human hunger for the fruit of the poppy.

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sumantra dattaray

amitav ghoshs magical words are lost with the authors terrible pronunciations and accents

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