RadioBDC Logo
Take Me to Church | Hozier Listen Live
THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
book review

A sprawling, tense tale of prelude to Opium War

Amitav Ghosh’s novel is both unwieldy and gripping. Amitav Ghosh’s novel is both unwieldy and gripping. (Ulf Andersen/Getty Images)
By Richard Eder
November 6, 2011

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

Text size +

The proliferating details, the incessant off-shooting of side stories, the swarm of Chinese, Indian and Creole words that buzz among the text; these enrich and engorge, by turns, the theme of “River of Smoke.’’ Beneath the lavish ornamentation of Amitav Ghosh’s massive new novel about the events leading up to China’s 1840’s Opium War, there is a panther-like tautness and thrill; a fat man who rises ponderously to dance, and erupts with a sudden whirling agility.

For more from BostonGlobe.com, sign up or log in below

To continue, please sign up or log in to BostonGlobe.com

Access the full articles and quality reporting of The Boston Globe at BostonGlobe.com

Sign up

Unlimited Access to BostonGlobe.com for 4 weeks for only 99¢.

Are you a Boston Globe home delivery subscriber?

Get FREE access as part of your print subscription.

BostonGlobe.com subscriber

Click to continue reading this article or to log in to BostonGlobe.com.

RIVER OF SMOKE By Amitav Ghosh

Farrar, Straus and Giroux,

522 pp., $28