Amitav Ghosh's The Circle Of Reason
A Study of Diaspora
An Elder Statesman among Indian Writers in English
We view Amitav Ghosh as an "elder statesman" among Indian writers in English. His work has received wide critical acclaim: winning several prizes and major nominations. His novels deal with interesting themes set against historical backdrops.
Ghosh's roots are in journalism and academic writing, investigations and analysis, a revelation of subterranean connections and patterns. But first and foremost, and overriding all the many ideas that inform his work, are his characters whose lives engage us and take us to some richly imagined places and times.
The Circle of Reason
Ghosh's first novel, The Circle of Reason, follows the fortune of a young weaver, Alu, who is brought up in a Bengal village. After a false accusation that he is a member of a violent extremist group, he flees westwards, first to a fictional Gulf state and later to Algeria.
Elements of the Story
The first section of the novel contains a number of incidental observations on Indian migrations. Balaram's birth year 1924, for example, reminds the narrator of crucial moments in the history of Indian emigration to the West, the Canada's colonial government decided not to admit "eight thousand Indians … after deciding that the ancient purity of Canada could not be endangered by Asiatic immigration."
Ghosh also provides several instances of internal Diasporas in this part of the novel. The people of Lalpukur, for example, had been "vomited out of their native soil" in the carnage connected with the partition of India; within the narrative time of the novel they witness once again the spectacle of people being "dumped hundreds of miles away" because of the civil war that led to the emergence of Bangladesh.
The Story of Alu, the Wanderer, Seeking a Home
Ghosh's diasporic consciousness comes out most clearly in the central section of the novel where Alu has to roam all over the India and the...