Amitav Ghosh


Ghosh was educated at the all-boys The 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


Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta on 11 July 1956 in a Bengali Hindu family, to Lieutenant Colonel Shailendra Chandra Ghosh, a retired officer of the pre-independence Indian Army. 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 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 to the English department of Harvard University since 2005. Ghosh subsequently returned to India began working on the Ibis trilogy which comprises 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. In 2015 Ghosh was named a Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellow.

Fiction 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 latest work of fiction is River of Smoke (2011), the second volume of The Ibistrilogy. The third volume, Flood of Fire, completing the trilogy, has been published 28 May 2015 to positive reviews.[6] Most of his works deals with an historical setting, especially in the context of Indian Ocean world. 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.

Awards and recognitions The Circle of Reason won the Prix Médicis étranger, one of France’s top literary awards. The Shadow Lines won the Sahitya Akademi Award & the Ananda PuraskarThe Calcutta Chromosome won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for 1997. 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 Man Asian Literary Prize 2011. The Government of India awarded him the civilian honour of Padma Shri in 2007.

Ghosh famously withdrew his novel The Glass Palace from consideration for Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, where it had been awarded the Best Novel in Eurasian section, citing his objections to the term “Commonwealth” and the unfairness of the English-language requirement specified in the rules. Subsequently, he landed in controversy over his acceptance of the Israeli literary award, the $1 million Dan David Prize.




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