Amitav Ghosh prepares ‘Gun Island’ for publication in 2019

Women and children at an IDP settlement 60km south of the town of Gode, reachable only along a dirt track through the desiccated landscape. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

Women and children at an internally displaced persons settlement
60km south of the town of Gode, in Ethiopia, reachable only along a
dirt track through the desiccated landscape. Credit: James
Jeffrey/IPS

By Dan Bloom
TAIPEI, Nov 5 2018 (IPS)

Amitav Ghosh is one of the world’s top novelists writing in
the English language today, and Brooklyn-based author of “The
Ibis Trilogy” has a new novel set for publication in June
2019.

Billed as a 350-page cli-fi novel set in several locations around
the world, it’s historical fiction with a cli-fi theme this time.
According to those who have had early peaks at the manuscript,
“Gun Island” is about a descendant of a character named Neel
who wants to learn more about his ancestry and who first appeared
in the author’s earlier trilogy.

The well-received ”Ibis trilogy” was set in the first half
of the 19th century and dealt with the opium trade between India
and China that was run by the East India Company and the
trafficking of coolies to Mauritius. The three books were titled
“Sea of Poppies” (2008), “River of Smoke” (2011) and
“Flood of Fire” (2015).

There really is a Gun Island off the coast of India, and
according to book industry sources, that’s where Ghosh
”might” have taken the title for his much-anticipated new
novel, his first in four years. Readers will have to wait for
publication day in June 2019 to find out. The novel will appear
first in India and Britain in early summer and later roll out in
September in New York and Italy, according to Ghosh.

Amitav Ghosh. Credit: Gage Skidmore.

Amitav Ghosh. Credit: Gage Skidmore.

Meru Gokhale, editor-in-chief in the Literary Publishing unit of
Penguin Random House India, who has read the book in manuscript
form, said on her Twitter feed that “Amitav Ghosh’s new novel
‘Gun Island’ is amazing — lively, humane, fast-paced, almost
mystical, contemporary, utterly engaged.”

Meanwhile, a brief online synopsis of the novel sets the scene
this way: In Kolkata the main character of the novel named Dr. Anil
Kumar Munshi meets, by complete chance, a distant relative named
Kanai Dutt, who upends the scholar’s view of the world with a
single Hindi word: ”bundook” (gun in English).

In the captivating story Ghosh tells within the 350-page novel,
Munshi, a writer and a folklorist, at Dutt’s suggestion realizes
that his family legacy may have deeper roots than he imagined, in
the tale of a merchant that Munshi had always understood to be the
stuff of Bengali legend.

Ghosh describes it as a story about a world wracked by climate
change “in which creature and beings of every kind have been torn
loose from their accustomed homes by the catastrophic processes of
displacement that are now unfolding across the Earth at an
ever-increasing pace.”
And we’re off in a tale of an extraordinary journey will take
readers from Kolkata to Venice and Sicily via a tangled route
through the memories of those Munshi meets along the way. What
emerges is an extraordinary portrait of a man groping toward a
sense of what is happening around him, struggling to grasp, from
within his accepted understanding of the world, the reality with
which he is presented.

By the way, readers and literary critics around the world will
be surprised to learn that the main charcater’s name of Munshi is
also a fictitious name that Ghosh uses on his personal blog —
“A.K. Munshi” — as a virtual pen name for Ghosh himself,
which he has given to a ”virtual assistant” who handles the
novelist’s reader and media email inquiries online.

The author of a book of essays in 2016 titled “The Great
Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable,” Ghosh, while
not a climate activist per se has never-the-less found himself at
the front lines of literary circles discussing the role of novels
and movies that deal with global warming. In a way, “Gun
Island” is the globe-trotting novelist’s attempt to write a
cli-fi novel.

A self-admitted fan of some of Hollywood’s cli-fi disaster
epics, such as ”The Day After Tomorrow” and ”Geostorm,”
Ghosh recently told an interviewer that he enjoys those two
films.

“I love them! I watch them obsessively,” he said, adding:
“My climate scientist friends joke and laugh at me for this
because the practical science in a movie like ‘The Day After
Tomorrow’ is bad. But I find these movies very compelling. And I
do think both film and television are very forward-leaning in
dealing with climate change.”

As for his new novel, Ghosh describes it as a story about a
world wracked by climate change “in which creature and beings of
every kind have been torn loose from their accustomed homes by the
catastrophic processes of displacement that are now unfolding
across the Earth at an ever-increasing pace.”

“Climate change is the most important crisis of our times and
it’s hitting us in the face every day,” he told a reporter in
Canada in an email exchange. “Look at these devastating typhoons
and tornadoes, or the wildfires in Canada and California. These are
deadly serious weather events and lived experiences.”

Two years after publishing “The Great Derangement” to great
fanfare among literary scholars worldwide, Ghosh now admits that
the essays began as a sort of personal ”auto-critique,”
challenging himself for failing to adequately tackle the issues of
climate change in his own novels.

The result may very well be “Gun Island.”

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Amitav Ghosh prepares ‘Gun Island’ for publication in 2019

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Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Amitav Ghosh prepares ‘Gun Island’ for publication in 2019