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In 1986, author Amitav Ghosh's very first book, The Circle of Reason, won the Prix Medicis Etranger, one of France's top literary awards. And the world of literature had found a new lodestar.

Ghosh, who graduated from St Stephen's New Delhi and earned a doctorate in Oxford, began his career as a wordsmith with the Indian Express, before going on to write essays, fiction, seven major novels (The Hungry Tide, The Glass Palace, The Calcutta Chromosome among them) and teach literature both in India and the US.

The year 2008 sees Ghosh, 52, back with Sea Of Poppies, yet another historical novel, a genre he specialises in. Poppies is the first of a trilogy he plans to write and is set around the opium wars of the early 19th century. Locales switch colourfully and excitingly between the waving poppy fields located along the Ganga, furtive backstreets of China and voyages across the seas, and the book has a large multicultural cast of characters.

In his review of the novel for London's Financial Times, author William Dalrymple says: 'Amitav Ghosh is a living embodiment of what has become one of his principal themes: the journeyings and displacements of the Indian diaspora. Poppies remains a hugely absorbing and enjoyable book. It is observant, intelligent and passionately written, and deserves to be placed on the same shelf as such masterpieces of anti-Imperial fiction as Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda and Barry Unsworth's Sacred Hunger.'

Here's your chance to interact with one of the most accomplished writers of our time, and discuss Sea of Poppies, writing, history, the Indian Diaspora and more with Ghosh, only on Rediff Chat.

Catch Amitav Ghosh on the Rediff Chat, on Friday, June 20, from 6.15 pm IST.

(Due to circumstances beyond our control, date and time of chat may change).

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