Piya is an American marine biologist of Indian ethnicity travelling to India for the first time in search of rare species of dolphins found in the Sundarbans. Kanaia Dutt is an Indian businessman visiting his widowed aunt to collect some pieces of writing left to him by his deceased uncle. By chance, their paths collide when Piya hires an illiterate local fisherman, Fokir, to guide her through the unfamiliar islets of the Sunderbans, and Kanaia becomes her translator.
The book is a unique characterisation of modern India juxtaposed against the secluded rural villages of coastal West Bengal. It was addicting to read and like all of Ghosh’s books– extremely well-researched. What stood out to me was the love and sheer passion with which the author paints a picture of the dangerously beautiful volatility of the Sunderban tides, the wealth of its ecosystem and the depth of its people’s roots in the wet, marshy soil they call home. Most importantly, it explores language; not Fokir’s Bengali or Piya’s English, but the language of growth and destruction that transcends all man-made differences- the language of the tide country.
Shivani Gowda, 11 ISC