When I first saw this book at the store, I was hesitant to buy it. Because I had this (god knows from where) idea that Amitav Ghosh is one of those prolific, eltistic writers. And also, because I thought his writings wouldn’t have a ‘story’. After The Calcutta Chromosome, I probably will pick another of his books sometime.
The tagline – A novel of Fevers, Delirium and Discovery sets the genre for this. A chaotic (yet interestingly good) mix of science fiction with supernatural and medieval components and medical history. So this book, is set in the future, the present and the past, and is done so in a wonderfully connected way. But, in the beginning, I did find the jumping of timelines very confusing. And I had to go back a couple of pages to link things in my head. What’s brilliant is that he manages to put out ‘clues’ to what the book is about, right from the very beginning, but you never catch it because – hey! It’s the beginning! I guess, when you read the second time, it’ll all dawn upon you.
I like that he didn’t go into this detail-ridden future, which makes it a lot more believable. The cult of people with advanced scientific ability and the whole ‘switching’ phenomenon is, although very strange, pretty well written. My main quip about this is that Ghosh tries to creatively hide details and sometimes, frustrates me. But his writing and the vocabulary are brilliant. They not only sound good, but describe the temperament and scene very well.
As for one of the MCs, Murugan, he seemed to be flaky, in the sense, his character seemed to wobble here and there.
True, it’s written beautifully, but I would say that it didn’t captivate me altogether. It was like it reached a high-point on a bell curve and then fell sort of flat. It’s interesting yes, good, maybe. One of those books you love/hate, over time. The concept of transmigration is very interesting. Makes one wonder.
I would recommend it, only if you’d like something different, fast, yet it falls short. Don’t read with high expectations and you might like it. (Which is probably why I enjoyed it).
Rating : 3/5