Amitav Ghosh

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For the banker and RBI Governor, see Amitav Ghosh (banker).
Amitav Ghosh
Amitav Ghosh by David Shankbone.jpg
Born (1956-07-11) 11 July 1956 (age 60)[1]
Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Occupation Writer
Nationality India
United States of America
Alma mater The Doon School
St. Stephen's College, Delhi, Delhi University
St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford
Genre Historical fiction
Notable works The Glass Palace, Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke
Spouse Deborah Baker (wife)

Amitav Ghosh (born 11 July 1956)[1] is an Indian–American author best known for his work in English fiction.


Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta on 11 July 1956 to a Bengali Hindu family, to Lieutenant Colonel Shailendra Chandra Ghosh, a retired officer of the pre-independence Indian Army. He was educated at the all-boys Doon School, where he edited The Doon School Weekly. His contemporaries at Doon included author Vikram Seth and Ram Guha.[2] After Doon, he received degrees from St. Stephen's College, Delhi University, and Delhi School of Economics. He then won the Inlaks Foundation scholarship to complete a D. Phil. in social anthropology at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, under the supervision of Peter Lienhardt.[3] His first job was at the Indian Express newspaper in New Delhi.

Ghosh lives in New York with his wife, Deborah Baker, author of the Laura Riding biography In Extremis: The Life of Laura Riding (1993) and a senior editor at Little, Brown and Company. They have two adult children, Lila and Nayan. He has been a fellow at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta and Centre for Development Studies in Trivandrum. In 1999, Ghosh joined the faculty at Queens College, City University of New York, as Distinguished Professor in Comparative literature. He has also been a visiting professor at the English department of Harvard University since 2005. Ghosh subsequently returned to India began working on the Ibis trilogy which includes Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke, and Flood of Fire (published May 2015).

He was awarded the Padma Shri by the Indian government in 2007.[4] In 2009, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.[5] In 2015 Ghosh was named a Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellow.



Ghosh is the author of The Circle of Reason (his 1986 debut novel), The Shadow Lines (1988), The Calcutta Chromosome (1995), The Glass Palace (2000), The Hungry Tide (2004), and Sea of Poppies (2008), the first volume of The Ibis trilogy, set in the 1830s, just before the Opium War, which encapsulates the colonial history of the East. Ghosh's River of Smoke (2011), is the second volume of The Ibis trilogy. The third, Flood of Fire, completing the trilogy, has been published 28 May 2015 to positive reviews.[6] Most of his work deals with historical settings, especially in the Indian Ocean periphery. In an interview with Mahmood Kooria, he said: "It was not intentional, but sometimes things are intentional without being intentional. Though it was never part of a planned venture and did not begin as a conscious project, I realise in hindsight that this is really what always interested me most: the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the connections and the cross-connections between these regions." [7]


Ghosh's notable non-fiction writings are In an Antique Land (1992), Dancing in Cambodia and at Large in Burma (1998), Countdown (1999), and The Imam and the Indian (2002, a large collection of essays on different themes such as fundamentalism, history of the novel, Egyptian culture, and literature). His writings appear in newspapers and magazines in India and abroad. His most-recent non-fiction book The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (2016) addresses why modern literature has failed to address issues of climate change, and how radical transformation due to nature has become 'unthinkable'.

Awards and recognition[edit]

The Circle of Reason won the Prix Médicis étranger, one of France's top literary awards.[8] The Shadow Lines won the Sahitya Akademi Award and the Ananda Puraskar.[9][10] The Calcutta Chromosome won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for 1997.[11] Sea of Poppies was shortlisted for the 2008 Man Booker Prize.[12] It was the co-winner of the Vodafone Crossword Book Award in 2009, as well as co-winner of the 2010 Dan David Prize.[13] River of Smoke was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2011. The government of India awarded him the civilian honour of Padma Shri in 2007.[14]

Ghosh famously withdrew his novel The Glass Palace from consideration for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, where it was awarded the best novel in the Eurasian section, citing his objections to the term "commonwealth" and the unfairness of the English-language requirement specified in the rules.[15] Subsequently, he landed in controversy over his acceptance of the Israeli literary award, the US$1 million Dan David Prize.[16]

Ghosh received the lifetime achievement award at Tata Literature Live, the Mumbai LitFest on November 20, 2016.[17]

Critical studies[edit]



  1. ^ a b Ghosh, Amitav, Encyclopædia Britannica
  2. ^ Nicholas Wroe. "Amitav Ghosh: 'There is now a vibrant literary world in India – it all began with Naipaul'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-05-27. 
  3. ^ "A scholarship worth going after". The Times of India. 2002-01-17. Retrieved 2015-05-27. 
  4. ^ (PDF) Retrieved 17 October 2008.  Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  5. ^ "Royal Society of Literature All Fellows". Royal Society of Literature. Archived from the original on 5 March 2010. Retrieved 8 August 2010. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Mahmood Kooria (2012). "Between the Walls of Archives and Horizons of Imagination: An Interview with Amitav Ghosh". Itinerario, 36, p. 10
  8. ^ "Amitav Ghosh re-emerges with Sea of Poppies". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 24 May 2008. 
  9. ^ "Amitav Ghosh". Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  10. ^ "Sahitya Academy Awards: English Books & Authors". Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  11. ^ "Arthur C. Clarke Award |". Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  12. ^ "First-timers Seeking Booker glory". BBC News. 9 September 2008. 
  13. ^ Laureates 2010 – 2010 Present – Literature: Rendition of the 20th Century – Amitav Ghosh Archived 18 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2014. Retrieved July 21, 2015. 
  15. ^ Wild West at the London Book Fair| The Guardian
  16. ^ Amitav Ghosh lands in controversy over Israeli literary award
  17. ^ "Amitav Ghosh gets life-time achievement award at Lit Fest". Retrieved 2016-12-19. 

External links[edit]