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The Glass Palace
— —
Amitav Ghosh
The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh at Abbey's Bookshop,

The Glass Palace

Amitav Ghosh


Harper Collins

Fiction & Literature;
Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)


560 pages

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The acclaimed author of `The Calcutta Chromosome' and `The Shadow Lines' has burst out on to the big stage with a major saga on that hidden country, Burma.

Rajkumar is only another boy, helping on a market stall in the dusty square outside the royal palace, when the British force the Burmese king, queen and all the court into exile. He is rescued by the far-seeing Chinese merchant, and with him builds up a logging business in upper Burma. But haunted by his vision of the royal family, he journeys to the obscure town in India where they have been exiled.

The picture of the tension between the Burmese, the Indian and the British, is excellent. Among the great range of characters are one of the court ladies, Miss Dolly, whom he marries; and the redoubtable Jonakin, part of the British-educated Indian colony, who with her husband has been put in charge of the Burmese exiled court.

The story follows the fortunes - rubber estates in Malaya, businesses in Singapore, estates in Burma - which Rajkumar, with his Chinese, British and Burmese relations, friends and associates, builds up - from 1870 through World War II to the scattering of the extended family to New York and Thailand, London and Hong Kong in the post-war years.

By:   Amitav Ghosh
Imprint:   Harper Collins
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 198mm,  Width: 129mm,  Spine: 36mm
Weight:   380g
ISBN:   9780006514091
ISBN 10:   000651409X
Pages:   560
Publication Date:   September 2001
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Author Website:

The author was born in India of Burmese parents. Educated in India and Britain, he now lives in New York.

Rajkumar Raha is 12 when he is orphaned on a sampan tethered in a mangrove-lined estuary. He makes his way from Bengal into Burma, to Mandalay, just ahead of the British arriving to depose King Thebaw. On the eve of the Royal Family's departure into exile, Raha sees, in the Glass Palace, Dolly, the Queen's 10-year-old handmaid. This is obsession at first sight. Almost 20 years later, having made his fortune in timber, Raha seeks out Dolly in her exile in Ratnagiri. Throughout the novel, the Empire expands and then retracts, fortunes are won and lost, the face of the world changes. The novel follows Raha's family through three generations and many cities. It teems with servants of the British Empire and with their colonial subjects. This is the East as seen by its own people, described by a writer whose allegiance is simply to the human. Ghosh is one of the most sympathetic post-colonial voices to be heard today. He looks at love and loyalty, and examines questions of Empire and responsibility, of tradition and modernity. This is a funny, sad, entertaining, wise and - ultimately - a hopeful book. I loved it. Review by AHDAF SOUEIF. Editor's note: Ahdaf Soueif is the author of The Map of Love. (Kirkus UK)

  • Winner of Commonwealth Writer's Prize Best Book Eurasia 2001.
  • Winner of The Commonwealth Writer's Prize Best Book Eurasia 2001
  • Winner of The Commonwealth Writer's Prize Best Book Eurasia 2001.
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