from a reader in Haryana

June 29, 2011 in Uncategorized | Comments (1)


Dear Amitav

The wait for River of Smoke was long and frustrating and i could not
delay reading it once i could lay my hands on it.

There are a lot of things that i wish to give back to you and i don’t
have a mastery over structure and language like you have but i am sure
my mail will communicate my intentions to you.

First of all i thank you to make me aware about my own past, about the
history of my nation and giving us a so well fictionalized
reconstruction of my past. I consider myself a well read man and feel
that i am an aware citizen who understands the intricacies of
postcolonial life. But i feel no shame in confessing that i had no
idea about the China link between the colonial rulers and
pre-Independence India till River Of Smoke opened this realm to me.
For the first time in my life there existed a new world to me- a new
East. First time in my life i was looking at China’s map in my Google
Map, i realized China had a long southern coast and for me China had
some places on map that were neither Jammu and Kashmir and nor
Arunachal Pradesh. You gave me a new meaning to words like East,
Oriental, Occidental and so on… I never felt any sympathies for
China, it was always the other, but you have opened a new window.

What a wonderful situation you created in the recreation of Fanqui
Town in Canton. A Parsi, who is a descendant of people migrated from
Persia and who had his Childhood in Gujrat, youth in Mumbai travels to
Canton and has a society from all races and nationalities and becomes
a stakeholder in the historical turmoil of Opium trade in 1838-89… i
may sound making a sweeping statement but honestly i feel there isnt a
more historically rich fiction available in whatever i have read till
date. I do understand that these are  nuances of understanding Empire-
then and neo-imperialism now. There is a lot of talk about
Globalization and fear to nativity in present world but you have
opened our eyes that how almost two centuries back there was already a
fight going on with this same issue. Free trade, open market,
corruption in native territory are not new issues but at least two
hundred years old.

I have been a student of language and literature for around 20 years
now. I never felt that novel can be such a strong knowledge source
that River Of Smoke made me feel. I have been reading, speaking,
listening and writing English but never realized how conveniently it
turns “lies into legalisms”. The language efforts in the novel has
been so beautifully done that i am sure this work will stand out and
marks a new milestone. I have been an ardent AG fan but even I know
that this Christomathy will herald a new era in writing and your works
will be analyzed from angles of linguistic studies as well.

I am a small man. I teach literature at a small place called Sirsa,
Some 250 km North West of Delhi. I am almost half way in working
towards my Doctoral research studying “Recreation and Representation
of History in the Fiction of AG”. The last time i communicated to you
was in June-July 2009, when i was in USA on a personal trip to my
brother living in Connecticut, and wanted to meet you there but could
not since you had undergone a surgery those days.

Now i wish to stand in front of your house to pay respect to you in
the same Japaneses way that you wanted to do to Satyajit Ray as you
have written in one of your tributes to him.  I really mean it but I
got to have knowledge about your place of residence for that. I hope i
don’t need to explain that i mean no inconvenience to you and i know
no other way to tell you how much loved and respected you are. But as
you yourself said in “Shadow Lines” that love is not transitive and i
do understand that a luminary like you have a huge fan following but
Sir i only intend to Thank you for being what you are and for writing
what you have written. From the core of my heart I salute you and
while i do it the feeling is same that one has while saluting one’s
National flag.

Thanks a lot for your patience and time. A confirmation that AG read
this mail will mean a lot to me.

Pankaj Sharma
Assitant Professor
Department of English
Ch. Devi Lal University SIRSA

One Response to “from a reader in Haryana”

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  1. Comment by AnirbanJune 30, 2011 at 7:18 am   Reply


    I read the glass palace and the hungry tide after I had read the sea of poppies and I found all three marvelous. Your books are really a gift

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