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1 Hawthorne Literature- A to Z

The Glass Palace

by

The Glass Palace Cover

ISBN13: 9780375758775
ISBN10: 0375758771
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Set in Burma during the British invasion of 1885, this masterly novel by Amitav Ghosh tells the story of Rajkumar, a poor boy lifted on the tides of political and social chaos, who goes on to create an empire in the Burmese teak forest. When soldiers force the royal family out of the Glass Palace and into exile, Rajkumar befriends Dolly, a young woman in the court of the Burmese Queen, whose love will shape his life. He cannot forget her, and years later, as a rich man, he goes in search of her. The struggles that have made Burma, India, and Malaya the places they are today are illuminated in this wonderful novel by the writer Chitra Divakaruni calls "a master storyteller."

Review:

"[A] beguiling and endlessly resourceful storyteller....Ghosh vividly brings to life the history of Burma and Malaya over a century of momentous change in this teeming, multigenerational saga." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"[A] rich tapestry of a novel....This illuminating saga should find an appreciative audience." Booklist

Review:

"An absorbing story of a world in transition, brought to life through characters who love and suffer with equal intensity." J. M. Coetzee

Review:

"There is no denying Ghosh's command of culture and history....[He] proves a writer of supreme skill and intelligence." The Atlantic Monthly

Review:

"I will never forget the young and old Rajkumar, Dolly, the Princesses, the forests of teak, the wealth that made families and wars. A wonderful novel. An incredible story." Grace Paley

Review:

"A rich, layered epic that probes the meaning of identity and homeland — a literary territory that is as resonant now, in our globalized culture, as it was when the sun never set on the British Empire." Los Angeles Times Book Review

Review:

"A novelist of dazzling ingenuity." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"Ghosh ranges from the condescension of the British colonialists to the repression of the current Myanmar (Burmese) regime in a style that suggests E. M. Forster as well as James Michener. Highly recommended." Library Journal

Synopsis:

Brilliant and exotic, The Glass Palace is a superb novel of love, war, and family by "an exceptional writer" (Peter Matthiessen). Set in Burma, this exquisite novel begins with the shattering of a kingdom and the igniting of a great and passionate love, and it goes on to tell the story of a people, a fortune, and a family's fate. Woven into this stunning work is the story of Rajkumar, a poor boy lifted on the tides of the political and social chaos occasioned by the British invasion of 1885, when soldiers forced the royal family into exile from the glass palace. Rajkumar then sees the woman whose love would shape his life.

About the Author

Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and spent his childhood in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and northern India. He studied in Delhi and Egypt and at Oxford and taught at various Indian and American universities. Author of a travel book and three acclaimed novels, Ghosh has also written for Granta, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Observer. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Scot, June 3, 2010 (view all comments by Scot)
At the risk of falling into cliche, Amitav Gosh's The Glass Palace is an important book. It's importance begins with the subject matter - a 100 year span of history that unfolds in India, Malaya (now Malaysia) and Burma (now Myanmar), all countries that most Americans, myself included, know precious little about. The book addresses the circumstances of colonialism in the region across 3 generations, originating with four people whose lives are bound together as much by politics as by dint of love or geographic proximity.

The story is manipulated to provide the reader with a lesson in political history that, regardless of agreement or lack thereof, is not easily forgotten. The characters are often under-developed, functioning more as symbols and historical levers than as representations of whole people. Their role as symbols is made most evident by the fact that, were it not for British rule in India, starting in 1858, the British take-over of Burma 27 years later, and the subsequent exile of the Burmese royal family, these characters would never, in fact would never have been allowed to, have met under intimate circumstances.

The plot unfolds to the beat of history, carrying the reader through two world wars, and the independence movement that eventually forces the British out of the region. It ends in contemporary Myanmar amidst the struggle between a growing pro-democracy movement and the notoriously repressive military government that has ruled the country since the military coup in 1962.

The sweep of history is breathtaking. In fact, history really is, by far, the leading character of the book. The story starts as feudalism falls, and takes us into the modern age as capitalism asserts itself and the region industrializes. The emergence of a critical perspective among the generations, and of a post-modern worldview as the book comes to a close, is intriguing. Each generation shifts in its understanding of its relationship to history and to the structures of inequality that rule their lives, asking ever evolving questions, either in word or deed, that beg profoundly different answers. And then, the final lesson, about the futility of revolutionary struggle as we've understood it from this historical period and the need for a more humane politic; about the failures and dangers of modernism and it's obsession with structuralism and the reductive answers to complex problems of culture to which this obsession tends to lead, was, I think, the most profound.

One doesn't often read contemporary fiction that addresses such lofty ideas. On the other hand, this was no literary stick in the mud. It was a very entertaining novel, but It read like an epic movie - more cinematic than literary. I found it a little like reading Gone with the Wind gone Asian. At every turn one is presented with world beating beauties in spectacularly beautiful settings rife with love, intrigue, betrayal, sex and the suggestion of it, and why not? If we all looked like the characters in Amitav Gosh's South Asia, living as they do in settings of awe inspiring beauty, we'd be hard pressed not to hang the political struggles in the closet along with our fashionable costumes and just roll around naked with each other all the time.

Suffice to say, the cinematic aspects of the novel are a bit gratuitous and distracting, not unlike most guilty pleasures. To have left out those details in favor of creating a more earthbound cast of characters might have led to greater artistic street cred. But then, one needs a bit of relief from all of the political science and philosophy in these pages, not to mention highly detailed accounts of elephant diseases and the teak trade (I write, I yawn).

What's between the pages is worthy of reading, but just as worthy of attention is the existence of the novel itself which is, I believe, a fascinating political and cultural artifact. Gosh is a leader among a new generation of Indian writers who are products of a western educated Indian middle class, indeed the new sahibs of India, that would not have existed under the British, but who would not be likely to exist today if not for the British. What must it mean to be an Indian writer in English criticizing the British colonization of India? Is the writer struggling with his status as one who is among those defining what the world regards as the first authentically Indian literary voice while speaking in a language acquired through a very English education?

Contemplating this question puts the novel in a whole new light. It as much an expression of the (post) post-modern historical moment as it is an examination of the history leading to it. But then, to address a western audience, one must speak in terms the west understands. In a world defined as much by power inequality as by any other condition, this ability is often the product of privilege, always bestowed by the powerful to serve their own purposes. Making the concession of speaking in the voice of the ruling class is presented to us as a necessary evil. Without it, how are problems created by the rulers to be resolved? Yet, when we concede, we cast a very western light upon ourselves, one whose glow tends to blind those who live in the shadows created on it's periphery just as it distorts all that it illuminates but does not understand.

Or something like that. As a lover of the English language and of English language literature, this quandary is interesting to think about but inconvenient to fit into real life. In English, I write, I highly recommend this book. It's ambitious, educational, entertaining (who doesn't like a good epic movie?), and, well, important.
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Mister E, January 16, 2010 (view all comments by Mister E)
This sweeping historic novel spans decades of British rule in Burma and India. From the end of the 19th century through the time of World War II, Rajkumar and his relationships and offspring live generally privileged lives as the Empire's influence slowly diminishes. Settings in upland Burmese teak forests, Malaya's rubber plantations, and India's verdant west coast frame the lives of successful Burmese and Indians whose embracing of British control is challenged more and more as the decades unfold. Ghosh's perceptive eye explores the core of human motivations: money, love, power, and transcendence. His writing is rich in expressive detail. It's a wonderful read.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780375758775
Author:
Ghosh, Amitav
Publisher:
Random House Trade
Location:
New York
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
History
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Man-woman relationships
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
Love stories
Subject:
Burma
Subject:
Domestic fiction
Subject:
Mandalay
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
1st Trade Paperback ed.
Publication Date:
February 2002
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
512
Dimensions:
8.09x5.32x1.07 in. .84 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Glass Palace Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.95 In Stock
Product details 512 pages Random House Trade - English 9780375758775 Reviews:
"Review" by , "[A] beguiling and endlessly resourceful storyteller....Ghosh vividly brings to life the history of Burma and Malaya over a century of momentous change in this teeming, multigenerational saga."
"Review" by , "[A] rich tapestry of a novel....This illuminating saga should find an appreciative audience."
"Review" by , "An absorbing story of a world in transition, brought to life through characters who love and suffer with equal intensity." J. M. Coetzee
"Review" by , "There is no denying Ghosh's command of culture and history....[He] proves a writer of supreme skill and intelligence."
"Review" by , "I will never forget the young and old Rajkumar, Dolly, the Princesses, the forests of teak, the wealth that made families and wars. A wonderful novel. An incredible story." Grace Paley
"Review" by , "A rich, layered epic that probes the meaning of identity and homeland — a literary territory that is as resonant now, in our globalized culture, as it was when the sun never set on the British Empire."
"Review" by , "A novelist of dazzling ingenuity."
"Review" by , "Ghosh ranges from the condescension of the British colonialists to the repression of the current Myanmar (Burmese) regime in a style that suggests E. M. Forster as well as James Michener. Highly recommended."
"Synopsis" by , Brilliant and exotic, The Glass Palace is a superb novel of love, war, and family by "an exceptional writer" (Peter Matthiessen). Set in Burma, this exquisite novel begins with the shattering of a kingdom and the igniting of a great and passionate love, and it goes on to tell the story of a people, a fortune, and a family's fate. Woven into this stunning work is the story of Rajkumar, a poor boy lifted on the tides of the political and social chaos occasioned by the British invasion of 1885, when soldiers forced the royal family into exile from the glass palace. Rajkumar then sees the woman whose love would shape his life.
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