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Gun Island: A Novel par Amitav Ghosh
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Gun Island: A Novel (édition 2019)

par Amitav Ghosh (Auteur)

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1695121,836 (3.71)4
Bundook. Gun. A common word, but one which turns Deen Datta's world upside down. A dealer of rare books, Deen is used to a quiet life spent indoors, but as his once-solid beliefs begin to shift, he is forced to set out on an extraordinary journey; one that takes him from India to Los Angeles and Venice via a tangled route through the memories and experiences of those he meets along the way. There is Piya, a fellow Bengali-American who sets his journey in motion; Tipu, an entrepreneurial young man who opens Deen's eyes to the realities of growing up in today's world; Rafi, with his desperate attempt to help someone in need; and Cinta, an old friend who provides the missing link in the story they are all a part of. It is a journey which will upend everything he thought he knew about himself, about the Bengali legends of his childhood and about the world around him. Gun Island is a beautifully realised novel which effortlessly spans space and time. It is the story of a world on the brink, of increasing displacement and unstoppable transition. But it is also a story of hope, of a man whose faith in the world and the future is restored by two remarkable women.… (plus d'informations)
Membre:miriam2k
Titre:Gun Island: A Novel
Auteurs:Amitav Ghosh (Auteur)
Info:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2019), Edition: 1st, 320 pages
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Mots-clés:signed, fiction

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Gun Island par Amitav Ghosh

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» Voir aussi les 4 mentions

5 sur 5
Disappointing! A sort of sequel to The Hungry Tide, but with none of the depth and beautiful writing of that book. Reads more like an allegory than a full-fledged novel, and a messy one at that, as if Ghosh whipped it out in a few hours. The characters are flat, and both the plot and the scientific underpinnings are full of inconsistencies and errors. The interweaving of contemporary characters living in the middle of climate catastrophe with Indian mythology was interesting, but in the end just seemed flat and sort of meaningless to me, unless to say that that only the gods' miracles will save us. And the non-love story was equally pointless...
( )
  smgaines | Nov 22, 2020 |
Deen Datta is a rare book dealer in New York who leads a rather uneventful life until one day he runs into a distant family member who tells him an old aunt wants to speak to him about a story she once heard on an island in the Sundarbans. This story seems to be a strange and unheard of version of a myth that is commonly known in eastern India and in Bangladesh. It deals with a rich guy who is on the run for the snake goddess, but wherever he goes, she always finds him. In this version, the rich guy is called the gun merchant.

Deen once wrote his dissertation on this myth, but isn't really interested in this new version. Still, out of politeness, and because he feels attracted to a lady who works for this old aunt, he joins an excursion to the temple in the Sundarbans that is associated with the gun merchant. That is the start of a series of adventures where Deen and 2 young guys he meets more or less retrace the route of the gun merchant as far as Venice in Italy.

On the one hand this book has some Dan Brown like qualities mixed with the supernatural atmosphere of one of Ghosh's earlier novels: the Calcutta chromosome. You could see a movie being made of it. On the other hand, the book is about the grand themes of our times: climate change and mass migration. That is a lot to bring together in one story and I fear that it was a bit too much at times.

For this reason I couldn't really go with the flow of the story. I felt that some of the characters were solely added to have a person to explain this or that about the history of Venice, or about climate change. In these parts the book became more of a pamphlet than a novel. And though I am really interested in these themes, I am not really sure if it worked as a novel.

Then again, I am a great fan of Ghosh's writing and enjoyed reading this one too. Especially as I ran into some of the characters from The Hungry Tide again. That felt like meeting old friends! ( )
  Tinwara | Jul 11, 2020 |
A near contemporary novel involving refugees on the Mediterranean, climate change, legends, magic, and folklore. What the novel touches upon is very interesting; however, so much is attempted in so few pages. I wish that either this novel should have been more focused on just a few of the hodgepodge elements or that it were 3-4 times longer to give proper due to each element. Still, grand mind-candy. ( )
  ManyBooks_LittleTime | Jan 17, 2020 |
Amitav Ghosh is one of my favourite authors: I read and liked The Glass Palace (2000) a long time ago, and I was transfixed by his historical fiction trilogy, Ibis. There is so much resentful agenda-driven fiction these days—but Ghosh writes big picture novels that illuminate and clarify rather than blame.

The big picture issue that he tackles in Gun Island is the state of the planet, and climate change in particular. The point that he makes that's new for me, is that we might have reached a tipping point where the unstoppable tide of global commerce makes it impossible to rein in emissions and prevent catastrophe. Whereas in 1987 there was an international agreement to phase out CFCs and there is evidence now that the hole in the ozone layer is repairing itself, no such international cooperation is happening now to deal with climate change. The argument Ghosh so elegantly advances in this novel, is that Nature is losing the battle.

But as with his other novels, it's the human story that drives the narrative. His central character Dinnanath Dutta a.k.a. Deen, is a sixty-something dealer in rare books. A Bengali trading in the US, he has failed to establish any firm relationships, and although we learn little about that, it is easy to guess that his mildly pompous, diffident personality has something to do with it. He's not a man to step out of his comfort zone; he is always at the edges of social gatherings and conferences, more of an aloof observer than a participant. The first person narration enables the reader to discern Deen's own attitudes from his lofty description of Kanai:
I had just entered the venue — a stuffy colonial-era club — when I was accosted by a distant relative, Kanai Dutt.

I had not seen Kanai in many years, which was not entirely a matter of regret for me: he had always been a glib, vain, precocious know-it-all who relied on his quick tongue and good looks to charm women and get ahead in the world. He lived mainly in New Delhi and had thrived in the hothouse atmosphere of that city, establishing himself as a darling of the media: it was by no means uncommon to turn on the television and find him yelling his head off on a talkshow. He knew everyone, as they say, and was often written about in magazines, newspapers and even books.

The thing that most irritated me about Kanai was that he always found a way of tripping me up. This occasion was no exception; he began by throwing me a curveball in the shape of my childhood nickname, Dinu (which I had long since abandoned in favour of the more American-sounding 'Deen'). (p.5)
More annoying to Deen, with a PhD that he's proud of even though he abandoned academia to become a book dealer, is that Kanai knows more about Bengali folklore than he does. Moreover, Deen prides himself on logic and reason, which is why he is irritated to find himself intrigued by Kanai's taunts about the ancient Bengali myth of the Bandooki Sadagar a.k.a. the Gun Merchant who is pursued around the globe by Manasa Devi, the Goddess of Snakes. Each time odd things happen in the novel and are attributed by others to some mystical origin, Deen doesn't argue about it since that's not in his nature, but he interrogates himself and comes firmly to the conclusion that there is always a rational explanation even if it isn't clear at the time. What he learns from the journey that unfolds, is that logic and reason isn't necessarily incompatible with legends, because legends attend to constants in human interactions.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2019/08/12/gun-island-by-amitav-ghosh/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Aug 12, 2019 |
‘”The legend is filled with secrets and if you don’t know their meaning it’s impossible to understand.” And then he added: “But some day, when the time is right, someone will understand it and who knows? For them it may open up a world we cannot see.”’

Approaching his late fifties, rare books dealer Dinanath Datta – known as Deen – is, quite frankly, a bit of a downer, moping about over his failed love life and generally being gloomy. From friends, he learns of the legend of the Gun Merchant and the existence of a mysterious shrine in his native Bengal. The shrine is on an island called Bonduk-dwip, translated as Gun Island. Deen is encouraged to visit the island and from then on everything goes a bit off-piste. His adventures involve his friend Piya, with whom a romance may perhaps be possible; the two young men Tipu and Rafi, who embody the migrant spirit; and Cinta, a renowned scholar and long-time acquaintance who helps Deen explore the riddle of the Gun Merchant legend. Travelling across the globe, from New York to Bengal, from Venice to Los Angeles, this is an intelligent, beautifully written book that confronts many of today’s current crises: migrants, global warming and man-made pollution, and mankind’s connection – or lack of – with Nature.

Fittingly, for a book about a legend, it is itself a very meta kind of novel: there are stories within stories, as characters reveal their past (usually prefaced by: ‘it’s a long story’). At one point Deen, a lover of books, of course, reflects back on his childhood fondness for novels: ‘how can any reality match the worlds that exist only in books?’ This aspect of the novel is an interesting one, as Ghosh muses constantly on legends, stories and myths, and the importance they have in individual and cultural identity. But, what it means for this particular novel is that it all felt a little unsure of its own identity; what begins as a fascinating look at the Gun Merchant legend, and how it possibly came about – it transpires that the name of the island shrine could actually mean something else entirely – suddenly becomes a Dan Brownesque chase across the globe, complete with symbols and codes to decipher. There are pretty unbelievable coincidences throughout the book, as Deen just happens to be passing a particular place and bumps into someone he knows, or when he shouts out for help when he and Cinta are in danger, the voice that responds just happens to speak Bangla and, lo and behold, is someone else he has previously met. Tipu, having been bitten by a snake, suddenly starts getting visions and exchanges cryptic messages with Deen…I’m afraid by this point I was getting a little frustrated.

As the book drives towards its climax – a boat chase involving a migrant ship in which all the main characters converge – there are extraordinary, almost supernatural omens and events that suddenly shift the novel into a whole other dimension. And when the book itself directs attention to these events – as characters exclaim ‘I’ve never seen anything like this’ – it all gets a little heavy-handed. Suddenly we are delivered a sermon on global politics, migration and society that felt, well, exactly that: preachy. And then…the end. Just like that. A bit of a damp squib, leaving this particular reader a little vexed at the abruptness.

I am a huge fan of Amitav Ghosh, and the concept of the novel and its examination of myths and stories in modern culture and society was a strong one, but as it developed I felt the book lost its way, tried to become both a code-busting, globe-trotting thriller and a critique of Western attitudes to migrants and climate change, and in doing so lost its impetus. The writing is excellent, but the central character of Deen is a bit of a wet blanket, to be honest, more passive than active. Frustrating is the word I would use for my reaction to finishing this – it could have been so much more, so just an average 3 stars, I’m afraid. ( )
1 voter Alan.M | Jun 7, 2019 |
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The Gun Merchant

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The strangest thing about this strange journey was that it was launched by a word—and not an unusually resonant one either but a banal, commonplace coinage that is in wide circulation, from Cairo to Calcutta.
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Bundook. Gun. A common word, but one which turns Deen Datta's world upside down. A dealer of rare books, Deen is used to a quiet life spent indoors, but as his once-solid beliefs begin to shift, he is forced to set out on an extraordinary journey; one that takes him from India to Los Angeles and Venice via a tangled route through the memories and experiences of those he meets along the way. There is Piya, a fellow Bengali-American who sets his journey in motion; Tipu, an entrepreneurial young man who opens Deen's eyes to the realities of growing up in today's world; Rafi, with his desperate attempt to help someone in need; and Cinta, an old friend who provides the missing link in the story they are all a part of. It is a journey which will upend everything he thought he knew about himself, about the Bengali legends of his childhood and about the world around him. Gun Island is a beautifully realised novel which effortlessly spans space and time. It is the story of a world on the brink, of increasing displacement and unstoppable transition. But it is also a story of hope, of a man whose faith in the world and the future is restored by two remarkable women.

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