The Glass Palace is the second book of Amitava Ghosh, that I read. The previous book of the author was “The Hungry Tide”. More than an author, Ghosh is a painter. He paints the novel with words. There are some pages where you come across the painting of a forest through which a stream is flowing, logs of wood are traveling downstream over its turbulent waters, elephants are nearby trying to grab the logs, and then there are some pages where you see the scene of a town set next to a sea, there lies a palace not far from the shore, and through the balcony of the palace a king in exile watches the sea through his binoculars. The book is just this, painted with words and punctuations.
The Glass Palace sets the story of India before independence. A young Bengali boy named Rajkumar, who has no one to look after him, no one but his will to make it big. He lands up in Burma and from nothingness rises to become one of the richest businessman of the country. While reading his journey I could remember the dialogue of Shah Rukh Khan from the movie Om Shanti Om, that “कहते हैं की…अगर किसी चीज़ को दिल से चाहो तो पूरी कायनात उसे तुमसे मिलाने की कोशिश में लग जाती है।” Rajkumar has such a strong will, that he gets what he wants, be it his business, his love, his family. Over the years, as the turmoil due to the Indian freedom struggle as well as the situation due to world wars intensifies, lives of people, businesses and relations, all suffer. The book covers the life of three generations of people. However in each phase, it is Rajkumar who is the Phoenix that rises from its ashes over and over again.
To be honest, I usually like stories that are encircled around only a few characters. That was the sole reason I lost some interest as I reached the second half of the book. But I could not ignore the fact that the book is so much like a poetry, a painting, literally an art. The emotions, scenes, aesthetic are extremely well described. It is only a master of words who can do such justice, and Amitava Ghosh is surely him. The book is available on Amazon.