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Book Review

A Bullet With Manasa’s Name

Ghosh deploys myth and history to focus on the scary maw of a violated nature and the digitally-aided transfer of people. And we carry on, in denial.

A Bullet With Manasa’s Name
A Bullet With Manasa’s Name
outlookindia.com
2019-07-12T10:37:38+05:30

Amitav Ghosh’s anxiety on the subject of climate change had come out clearly in The Great Derangement (2016), wherein his conjecture on our collective inability to fathom lurking dangers of climate change was united with an absence of serious literature on the subject. The world has changed too much, too fast and so profoundly that not much sense can be made of it in non-fiction. Therefore, the conventional cause-effect narrative on the emerging environmental catastrophe rarely engages a large section of the affected and elicits a collective response.

It is only through stories that the universe can speak to us, contends Ghosh, and our failure to listen may invite punishment. It makes sense as we are the only species gifted with the faculty of storytelling that helps us capture the inward mysteries of our existence. Gun Island provides the mythical backdrop that connects the past with the present in Dinanath or Deen’s journey in tracing the footsteps of the gun merchant who had supposedly traversed the world in search of a safe haven to evade the wrath of the goddess of snakes, Manasa Devi. Deen’s travels from the marshes of the Sundar­bans to the gradually sinking Venice via fire-ravaged California is intermeshed with flights of imagination over dots of reality in building a compulsive story of contemporary relevance.

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