Author, anthropologist and essayist, Ghosh’s novel, “The Calcutta Chromosome,” won the Arthur C. Clarke prize, Britain’s top science fiction prize. “The March of the Novel” – an essay written by him won the Pushcart Prize. The prize, awarded to stories, poems and essays published in a literary magazine in the U.S., has been called “perhaps the single best measure of the state of affairs in American literature today” by The New York Times Book Review.
Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta in 1956. He grew up in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan), Sri Lanka, Iran and India. After graduating from the University of Delhi, he went to Oxford to study Social Anthropology and received a Master of Philosophy and a Ph. D in 1982. His first novel was The Circle of Reason, 1986, followed by The Shadow Lines, 1988. He also wrote several essays on anthropology. His novel “The Shadow Lines” has been published in many languages and was honored with the annual prize of the Sahitya Akademi (India’s National Academy Award) and the Ananda Puraskar (Calcutta). Now he lives in a New York, where he teaches at the Columbia University.
Books by Ghosh:
(1) The Circle of Reason (novel). New York: Viking, 1986.
Ghosh’s first novel opens with the arrival of a child “Alu” (“potato”– for the shape of his head) in a small village and is divided into three sections: “Satwa: Reason,” “Rajas: Passion,” and “Tamas: Death.”
(2) The Shadow Lines (novel). New York: Penguin, 1990. (First published in England by Bloomsbury press, 1988) His second novel focuses on the narrator’s family in Calcutta and Dhaka and their connection with an English family in London.
(3) In an Antique Land (multi-generic). New York: Vintage, 1994. (First published in England by Granta Books, 1992) The cover proclaims IAAL “History in the guise of a traveller’s tale,” and the book moves back and forth between Ghosh’s experience living in small villages and towns in the Nile Delta and his reconstruction of a Jewish trader and his slave’s lives in the eleventh century from documents from the Cairo Geniza.
(4) The Calcutta Chromosome (1996)This novel has been described as “a kind of mystery thriller” (India Today). It brings together three searches: the first is that of an Egyptian clerk, Antar, working alone in a New York apartment in the early years of the twenty-first century to trace the adventures of L. Murugan, who disappeared in Calcutta in 1995; the second pertains to Murugan’s obsession with the missing links in the history of malaria research; the third search is that of Urmila Roy, a journalist in Calcutta in 1995 who is researching the works of Phulboni, a writer who produced a strange cycle of “Lakhan stories” that he wrote in the 1930s but suppressed thereafter.