The Shadow Lines

I just finished reading The Shadow Lines, by Amitav Ghosh, and I loved it. Ghosh’s unnammed narrator, a doctoral student from Calcutta studying in London, tells the story of his own childhood and his present life in England. As a boy, he was fascinated with his cousin Tridib, who was doing postdoctoral studies in archaeology. Tridib ties together the characters in the book — his brother Robi, the narrator, Ila, and Tridib’s lover, May. Through their memories and reminiscences we get a snapshot of a time in the 1960s, when Bangladesh was East Pakistan and the wounds of Partition were still fresh. The narrator’s desire for Ila, his cousin, the border with Bangladesh, Tridib’s relationship with May, and Ila’s displacement in the UK are all shadowy boundaries in Ghosh’s world. It wasn’t the kind of novel I’d necessarily have picked up and read before, but it was deeply moving and I’m glad I bought it. I was a big fan of In An Antique Land as well, so now I’m tempted to gorge on Ghosh like I would ghosht…

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