Title: The Hungry Tide Author: Amitav Ghosh Read: April 2007
A young Indian American marine biologist, Pia, travels to the Sunderbans to study the Orcaella dolphin. She encounters Kanai, a successful translator, who is visiting his aunt Nilima, a social activist running a hospital in the delta. Nilima passes on a legacy to Kanai, her deceased husband Nirmal’s diary that he had left behind for Kanai. The diary documents Nirmal’s experience in Morichjhapi during the controversial refugee evacuation program undertaken by the West Bengal government.
Pia discovers interesting facts about the dolphin species that inhabits the Sunderban waters. She is aided by Fokir, a fisherman with deep intuitive knowledge of the surrounding ecology. Pia, Fokir and Kanai undertake a monumental field trip, one that ends with Fokir’s death and transforms the lives of the other two.
In the backdrop of folklore and recent political history, Ghosh carves out a tale that’s vivid in the narrative details of characters and environs but restrained in the aspects of political opinion. His handling of facets from marine biology to regional myth is masterly.
Reading this novel was an enriching experience.