The connection of intertwined history, whether you accept it or not, does exist. And so, it was oddly unsurprising that in my first month in London I was idling up the Marylebone High Street and recognized an Indian face. Or rather, his white hair. My encounters with Amitav Ghosh in person began in Kolkata, and have been brief and accidental. First, it was outside the Bengal Club as we were waiting for our respective cars. Then it was at a small party given for him by a friend of a friend, and then on the street in central London. He was in town because his novel Sea of Poppies had been shortlisted for the Man Booker prize. It didn’t win. This year, Hilary Mantel took home the 50,000 quid for Wolf Hall, a historical novel based on Thomas Cromwell, adviser to Henry VIII. I haven’t read her book, nor Ghosh’s latest (lingering distaste from The Hungry Tide), but I’m interested that such a novel won this year, and on what basis.
Chairman of judges James Naughtie said: “Our decision was based on the sheer bigness of the book. The boldness of its narrative, its scene setting.
Jabberwock has a nice review here.