Amitav Ghosh returns with his next literary masterpiece that explores the immense effect the opium trade has had on world history and how opium continues to impact our lives today. Join us for an enthralling discussion that uncovers the themes, narratives, and stories behind the book.
Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta, and grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka; he studied in Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria. He is the author of several acclaimed works of fiction and non-fiction including The Shadow Lines, The Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide, the Ibis Trilogy (comprising the novels Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke and Flood of Fire), Gun Island, The Great Derangement, The Nutmeg’s Curse, Jungle Nama and The Living Mountain. Amitav Ghosh’s work has been translated into more than thirty languages. He has been awarded and felicitated across the world. In 2019 Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the most important global thinkers of the past decade. The same year, the Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary honour, was conferred on him: he was the first English language writer to receive it.Read more
Hrishikesh Kannan popularly known as Hrishi K is producer & presenter on the nations biggest breakfast radio show on 94.3 RadioOne & Podcast creator & anchor on the online platforms Spotify, ‘moneycontrol.com’ & HT Smartcast. He is also National Brand Head for the RadioOne Network. A multiple RAPA & PROMAX award winning radio host, voice artiste & MC, the year 2022 saw Hrishikesh pick up a total of 4 ‘Golden Mikes’ in various categories at the Exchange4Media Golden Mike Radio Awards. His podcast “The HrishiKay Sessions” is one of the most heard podcasts on Amazon Prime Music, Gaana, Apple Podcasts & JioSaavnRead more
During the early 19th century, the trade in Chinese luxury goods such as tea, silks, and porcelain was extremely profitable for British merchants. However, the Chinese would not buy any British goods in return. They would only exchange their goods in return for silver, which eventually resulted in silver leaving Britain in huge amounts. In order to cease this, during the 18th and 19th centuries Western countries, mostly Great Britain, exported opium grown in India and sold it to the Chinese illegally and demanded payment in silver. The profits from the sale of opium were used to purchase Chinese luxury goods. By 1839, opium sales to China reimbursed the cost of the entire tea trade. This led to several social and economic problems in China due to an addiction to opium among the people.
The Qing Dynasty destroyed more than 20,000 chests of opium equivalent to almost 1400 tons of the drug that was stored in the warehouse at Canton in 1839 by the British merchants. The Opium Wars were an outcome of a combination of China’s enforcement efforts, and the Western countries’ response to those efforts. The first war was fought during 1839-42 between Britain and China, it didn’t legalize trade but led to China halting its efforts. In fact, it expanded British trading privileges. The second opium war popular as the Arrow War or the Anglo-French War in China was fought during 1856-60 between a British-French alliance and China. Post losing this war, the Chinese government was forced to legalize the opium trade, eventually leading to the import of more than 50,000 chests and beyond of opium every year to China in the coming years.
Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke, and Flood of Fire by Amitav Ghosh form the Ibis Trilogy, historical fiction writing which brings to life the maritime world of Asia during the times of the Opium Wars. The series conveys a story of a diverse range of people, mainly from Hindustan and other parts of the world during the years 1838-39, with the background of the opium trade in China. The first book introduces the characters who will be boarding the schooner Ibis and traveling from Calcutta to Mauritius and it ends with the ship hitting a storm in the middle of a mutiny. In the second book, Ghosh introduces the adventures of two other sailing ships caught in the same storm: the Anahita, led by Bahram Modi, and the Redruth, owned by the botanist, Fitcher Penrose, while he takes forward the story of Ibis. The third and final version Flood of Fire opens with a plot where the British have asked for a sum of six million Spanish dollars in compensation for the opium that Commissioner Lin had confiscated the previous year. Furthermore, they have put a demand that an island be ceded to them, as a trading base. Next in the story comes Zachary Reid, a seaman from Baltimore.