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A sea of ideas

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Amitav Ghosh’s much awaited “Sea of Poppies” was launched by Penguin Books India and The Taj Mahal Hotel this week in New Delhi. Rahul Bose read from portions of the book. Sunil Sethi conducted a lively conversation with the author.

Sethi asked him about his approach to characterisation and his methodology of portraying them, as also the epic sweep of his books. Ghosh agreed, “The book is placed in era of historical events like my other novels.” The prolific author, celebrated as much for his novels, including “The Circle of Reason”, “The Shadow Lines”, and others, as for his insightful essays, said that finding the fictional characters and their relationship is the hardest part. “But once you live a character, they become a part of you.”

“Sea of Poppies”, the first in the Ibis Trilogy, is considered Ghosh’s most ambitious work to date. It hinges on the journey of the Ibis, a converted slave ship, taking a disparate set of passengers in search of a new life across the Indian Ocean to Mauritius Islands in the era of indentured labour. History and fiction come together here in exciting ways.

“Sea of Poppies” has been published simultaneously in the U.K. and will be followed by several international editions.

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