Monday, 8 March 2010
AMITAV GHOSH The Glass Palace
Rajkumar Raha is 12 when he is orphaned on a sampan tethered in a mangrove-lined estuary. He makes his way from Bengal into Burma, to Mandalay, just ahead of the British arriving to depose King Thebaw. On the eve of the Royal Family's departure into exile, Raha sees, in the Glass Palace, Dolly, the Queen's 10-year-old handmaid. This is obsession at first sight. Almost 20 years later, having made his fortune in timber, Raha seeks out Dolly in her exile in Ratnagiri. Throughout the novel, the Empire expands and then retracts, fortunes are won and lost, the face of the world changes. The novel follows Raha's family through three generations and many cities. It teems with servants of the British Empire and with their colonial subjects. This is the East as seen by its own people, described by a writer whose allegiance is simply to the human. Ghosh is one of the most sympathetic post-colonial voices to be heard today. He looks at love and loyalty, and examines questions of Empire and responsibility, of tradition and modernity. This is a funny, sad, entertaining, wise and - ultimately - a hopeful book. I loved it.
(THIS IS A MUCH SOUGHT AFTER BOOK, VERY INTERESTING READING..)
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