The Shadow Lines

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The Shadow Lines
The Shadow-lines.jpg
Cover of Hardback edition
Author Amitav Ghosh
Country India
Language English
Genre Fiction
Publisher Ravi Dayal Publishers
Publication date
Media type Print (hardback)
Pages 246
ISBN 81-7530-043-4

The Shadow Lines (1988) is a Sahitya Akademi Award-winning novel[1] by Indian writer Amitav Ghosh. It is a book that captures perspective of time and events, of lines that bring people together and hold them apart, lines that are clearly visible from one perspective and nonexistent from another. Lines that exist in the memory of one, and therefore in another's imagination. A narrative built out of an intricate, constantly crisscrossing web of memories of many people, it never pretends to tell a story. Rather it invites the reader to invent one, out of the memories of those involved, memories that hold mirrors of differing shades to the same experience.

The novel is set against the backdrop of historical events like Swadeshi movement, Second World War, Partition of India and Communal riots of 1963-64 in Dhaka and Calcutta.

The novel brought its author the 1989 Sahitya Akademi Award for English, by the Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters.[2]

Plot summary[edit]

The novel follows the life of a young boy growing up in Calcutta and later on in Delhi and London. His family – the Datta Chaudharis - and the Prices in London are linked by the friendship between their respective patriarchs – Justice Dattachaudhari and Lionel Tresawsen. The narrator adores Tridib because of his tremendous knowledge and his perspective of the incidents and places. Tha'mma thinks that Tridib is type of person who seems 'determined to waste his life in idle self-indulgence', one who refuses to use his family connections to establish a career. Unlike his grandmother, the narrator loves listening to Tridib. For the narrator, Tridib's lore is very different from the collection of facts and figures. The narrator is sexually attracted to Ila but his feelings are passive. He never expresses his feelings to her afraid to lose the relationship that exists between them. However one day he involuntarily shows his feelings when she was changing clothes in front of him being unaware of his feelings. She feels sorry for him. Tha'mma does not like Ila. 'Why do you always speak for that whore' - She doesn't like her grandson to support her. Tha'mma has a dreadful past and wants to reunite her family and goes to Dhaka to bring back her uncle. Tridib is in love with May and sacrificed his life to rescue her from mobs in the communal riots of 1963-64 in Dhaka.[3]


  • Tridib – The protagonist is a middle class boy who grows up in a middle-class family and in relation he was the second uncle of the Narrator.
  • Grandmother of Narrator (Tha'mma) – She was the headmistress of a girls' school in Calcutta. She is very strict, disciplined, hard-working, mentally strong and patient lady.
  • Ila – She is the cousin of the narrator. She lives in Stockwell, London. She is very good looking.
  • May – She is the daughter of the Price family.
  • Nick – He is a good looking blonde having long hair and wants to become a Chartered Accountant.In the course of the novel he marries Ila.
  • Mayadebi – She is the sister of the Grandmother of the Narrator.



External links[edit]