Fiction, Indian, Uncategorized

The Shadow Lines – Amitav Ghosh

Hello people… The Storytellers are back with their latest post. This time its a guest review by our friend Eshani Bhattacharjee, who is an avid book reader and enthusiast of good literature. On our request, she has done a review on a book penned down by her favourite author, Amitav Ghosh. So, we present to you…. The Shadow Lines, a review by Eshani Bhattacharjee.


Photo Courtesy: Google Images

Amitav ghosh was born in Calcutta and grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He studied in Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria. Amitav Ghosh’s novels were translated into more than twenty other languages and he has served in the Jury of The Locarno and The Venice Film festival. In January 2007 he was awarded the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest honours, by the President of India. In 2010, Amitav Ghosh was awarded honorary doctorates by Queens College, New York, and the Sorbonne, Paris.

The Shadow Lines attempts to highlight the fact that human race is divided by shadow lines drawn by persons of narrow outlook. The considerations of country, class, race, religion all have put  people in fetters, but fortunately human race continues its strife for freedom. The story of The Shadow Lines is an effort in the direction of making people free of all baneful customs and beliefs which have divided the human race. Through the novel “The Shadow Lines”, Amitav Ghosh unveils various notions as exhibited by the characters in different time span. Ghosh’s unmitigated brilliance is ostentatiously manifested, as the readers experience different time and place throughout the novel.

The “Sahitya Akademi” award winner prudently constructs his characters and further experiments with them by placing them in an eccentric situation. The characters are well-defined and holds different notion of liberalism. The enthralling melodrama is portrayed in two parts ‘Going Away’ and ‘Coming Home’. The protagonist Tridib is the narrator’s uncle, and has a momentous impact on the narrator’s life. It is through Tridib’s idiosyncratic, rational and detached eyes that the narrator gets the captivating picture of the outside world and gradually was trained to contemplate through Tridib’s vision and evidently highlighting the narrator’s reliance on Tridib. The narrator was thus cocooned in the protective shell of his iconic figure Tridib.

Contrasting to Thamma’s opinion, the narrator had “Child-like love” for Tridib, and his eternal excitement was endless when Tridib would unlock his secrets to reveal his clandestine ideologies. However, for Thamma Tridib was merely a “loafer and wastrel” and for her “His time did stink”. Tridib viably cultivated and built the narrator’s mind to perceive things and to enhance a sense of imagination. On the contrary Thamma belonged to the generation that uprooted themselves in 1947. Her notions of life and people were old and outdated and therefore she condemns Ila who lived frugally in England and fails to appreciate her aspirations. The grandmother having lived a life of an austere Bengali widow, does not approve of fashionable, modern life of Shaheb, Tridib’s father. The narrator’s grandmother wanted people to live according to her old notions of life and morality.

The Shadow Lines presents the universal truth that human society is divided into several sections and sub-sections though human beings are the same all over the world. Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs have shown exemplary unity time and again, but the frantics have turned them into enemies. The Chaudhary’s and Prices get united in the bonds of marriage in spite of their religious differences.

The writer thus observes that the planet earth is one entity. It is divided into states and countries and regions by politicians. Life goes peaceful and smoothly all over, except when a war breaks out. Thus the writer has proved historically and geographically that the world is a home of all people. Only politics and politicians have divided it into small water tight compartments in which humanity is being choked to death. Thus, the lines on a map are “shadow lines” in the sense that they give wrong impressions and are not like tectonic plates which can separate the people from one another.


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