Amitav Ghosh is an Indian writer born in 1956 in Kolkata, India. Ghosh grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He studied at the Doon School and later completed his doctorate at the Oxford University.

Ghosh has authored both, fiction and non-fiction works. His books mainly focus on colonialism, people of Indian and South Asian origin, and climate change. Some of his notable works of fiction are The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, the Ibis Trilogy, and Gun Island. His non-fiction books include In An Antique Land, The Imam and the Indian, and Countdown.

He was the winner of the 54th Jnanpith award in 2018. Ghosh was the first English-language author to receive the Grand Prix of the Blue Metropolis festival in Montreal. He was also a recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri.

Ghosh is married to Deborah Baker, and the couple lives in New York.


Gun Island is a novel about a New York-based Bengali, Deen, who deals in rare books. He is in love with Priti, an American scientist studying dolphins.

On his annual visit home, one of Deen’s relatives tells him about a temple dedicated to the goddess Mansa Devi in the Sundarbans and the legend of the gun merchant who built the temple to escape the goddess’ wrath. While initially reluctant, Deen eventually decides to pay the temple a visit.

In the Sundarbans, he gets to know a young man by the name of Tipu, who becomes his guide. A series of events unfold after Deep reaches the island, forcing him to believe that much larger forces might be at play there. He wonders if there is more to the legend than meets the eye. This prompts Deep to go on a quest to unravel the mystery of the fabled gun merchant and, in doing so, he comes face to face with the harsh consequences of climate change.


The genius of Amitav Ghosh is hardly a secret given his ability to create complex plot lines that keep readers guessing to the very end. Gun Island is no different, for it has a powerful plot, enigmatic characters, and beautiful narration.

The book has an element of mystery peppered with ‘magic’. It highlights the devastating effects of climate change, while establishing a correlation between climatic variations and migration of his fellow men to European countries. This illegal migration is often fraught with life-threatening risks.

Arguably the best thing about Gun Island is that it makes one wonder if our ancestors simply labeled these ominous signs as legends of the past when these should have been dealt with as warnings for the future.


It has to be said that the book has a fairly underwhelming ending. It feels as though the author rushed into tying the loose ends as the sub-plots converge rather unceremoniously to conclude the book.

Human migration and climate change are two hot topics in the twenty-first century. Unfortunately, the climax doesn’t quite do justice to either.


Kolkataey tokhon na chilo lok na makan

Banlar patani tokhon nagar-e-jahan

Calcutta had neither people nor house then

Bengal’s great port was a city-of-the-world.

In the meantime, words were still flowing from Tipu’s mouth. ‘…they’re all over my body, they’re wrapped around my hands, they’re under my feet… but I’m not afraid of them; they’re trying to help me…or else they would have got me already…’


Ameya Score:

Ameya would wholeheartedly recommend Gun Island to everyone interested in climate change and the disastrous impact it has on our planet and its future.

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Anusuya book review writer

A proverbial bookworm, Anusuya is always hungry for new stories and adventures.