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World Literature with Anderson Tepper: Amitav Ghosh “Smoke and Ashes”

March 26 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EDT

Amitav Ghosh shares new book—part travelog, part history, part memoir—named as one of Literary Hub’s “Most Anticipated Books of 2024”

“Without a doubt, Amitav Ghosh has been one of my favorite writers of the past decades—from early works such as The Shadow Lines and In An Antique Land to The Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide, and the towering Ibis trilogy. His fiction is expansive, transporting; his nonfiction—on climate and colonialism—is more vital than ever. Smoke and Ashes, which grew out of the intensive research into the opium trade that informed the Ibis trilogy, promises to be vintage Ghosh. This is a book—and author—not to be missed.” —Anderson Tepper

When Amitav Ghosh began the research for his monumental cycle of novels the Ibis trilogy, he was startled to learn how the lives of the nineteenth-century sailors and soldiers he wrote about were dictated not only by the currents of the Indian Ocean, but also by the precious commodity carried in enormous quantities on those currents: opium. Most surprising of all, however, was the discovery that his own identity and family history were swept up in the story.

Smoke and Ashes is at once a travelog, a memoir, and an essay in history, drawing on decades of archival research. In it, Ghosh traces the transformative effect the opium trade had on Britain, India, China, and the world at large. The trade was engineered by the British Empire, which exported Indian opium to sell to China to redress their great trade imbalance, and its revenues were essential to the empire’s financial survival. Moving deftly between horticultural history, the mythologies of capitalism, and the social and cultural repercussions of colonialism, in Smoke and Ashes, Ghosh reveals the role that one small plant played in making our world, now teetering on the edge of catastrophe.

You can purchase your own copy of Amitav’s book, Smoke and Ashes, at City of Asylum Bookstore.

About the Author:

Amitav Ghosh is the author of the bestselling Ibis trilogy, comprised of Sea of Poppies (short-listed for the 2008 Man Booker Prize), River of Smoke, and Flood of Fire. His other novels include The Circle of Reason, which won the Prix Médicis étranger, and The Glass Palace. He is the author of many works of nonfiction, including The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable and The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis. He holds two lifetime achievement awards and four honorary doctorates. In 2018, Ghosh became the first English-language writer to receive the Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary honor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

About the Moderator:

Anderson Tepper is City of Asylum’s Curator of World Literature. He is a longstanding member of the international committee of the Brooklyn Book Festival and is a guest curator of the 2024 PEN AMERICA World Voices Festival. Formerly of Vanity Fair, he writes on books and authors for a variety of publications, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and World Literature Today. Anderson also serves on the City of Asylum Advisory Board.

About Your Visit: 

The in-house restaurant 40 North is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but a cash wine bar will be available.

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March 26
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EDT


Alphabet City
40 W. North Avenue
Pittsburgh,PA15212United States
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