The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh – Complete Study Guide

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Summary The Hungry Tide Amitav Ghosh Study Guide Novel Jhumpa Lahiri features critical points characters plot themes analysis

In this article, you will find everything about the novel The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh. We will offer, in this study guide, the summary of the novel, important characters, important events that define the plot of the novel, discussion on themes of the novel, critical commentary on the style of writing and other details that will help students of English literature understand the novel better. However, before we begin putting things in perspective, do remember that it is always the best option to read any work of literature in your syllabus thoroughly, at least once, so that you can understand whatever details you read about it anywhere. For instance, if you read a novel completely, you can easily recall any event, traits of the personality of any character, and major twists in the plot. So, the first step forward should be getting a copy and reading the novel ASAP. You can buy a copy of The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh from the Amazon India platform by clicking the link to the book below:

Buy the novel now – click here to get a copy.

Study Guide: The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh

What does this study guide cover?

This study guide contains the following items:

  • Basic Details & Metadata about the novel
  • Introduction to the novel
  • Summary of the novel
  • Major Episodes from the novel
  • Major Characters of the novel & Sketches of the most important ones
  • Critical Commentary on the novel’s themes, plot, motifs & the writing style of the novelist
  • Important Questions & Discussion Points


Basic Details and Metadata: 

Title: The Hungry Tide
Author: Amitav Ghosh
Publication Year: 2004
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 400 (paperback edition)
Important Awards: 2004 Hutch Crossword Book Award for Fiction

The Hungry Tide, initially, could garner general responses from critics and readers. However, once the novel’s ecological aspects became popular among academia, the novel caught momentum. It has been popular thereafter. At the centre of many research papers on ecocriticism and contemporary literature, The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh may be a slow-burner for casual fiction readers, but it does harbour the interests of English literature students and research scholars (read this review – The Hungry Tide Book Review). About 20 years young, the novel has found its place in the syllabus of many prestigious Indian universities with other books in the post-colonial studies unit. The Hungry Tide is the fifth novel by Ghosh, followed by Sea of Puppies in 2008 and preceded by The Glass Palace in 2000. If you want to know more about Ghosh, his writing style, philosophy, vision and biographical details, please follow this link to The Indian Authors – Amitav Ghosh.



Introduction to the novel The Hungry Tide:

In the novel “The Hungry Tide” by Amitav Ghosh, the author crafts a masterful and captivating narrative that transcends the boundaries of genre and delves into various themes, resonating with scholars of English literature and beyond. Set in the Sundarbans, a mysterious mangrove wilderness between India and Bangladesh, the novel intertwines the lives of its characters with the enigmatic embrace of nature’s bounty. The protagonist, Piyali Roy (often referred to as Piya), a young and intrepid cetologist, arrives in the Sundarbans to study Irrawaddy dolphins, revealing the ecological complexities of the region and the symbiotic relationships between its inhabitants and nature. Alongside Piya, Kanai Dutt, an intellectual translator, seeks to explore his ancestral homeland, further adding layers to the narrative. Ghosh’s narrative not only explores the cultural terrains of the Sundarbans but also delves into themes of migration, displacement, and the ever-changing forces that shape human destinies – with the Morichjhanpi Massacre from the years 1978-79 at the centre. The novelist weaves his magical narrative that makes space for the rare phenomenon as the Sundarbans itself emerges as a significant character, exuding enchantment and peril, while reflecting the fragile balance of human existence and ecological harmony. Ghosh’s deeply researched portrayal of the region adds authenticity to the story and engages readers in ecological contemplation. There are many episodes in the novel that reinforce the idea that people living close to nature are actually the ones closest to it. Villagers live in perfect sync and harmony with nature; they can assume and gauge the upcoming events; they try not to harm the wild and otherwise animals; they know nature can be the preserver (as it indeed is) and also the angry destroyer who forgives none! Fokir, the character who plays an important role in this novel, may be seen as the symbolic figure representing all such people. The novel beautifully blends adventure, romance, and philosophical introspection, inviting readers to partake in a profound journey of self-discovery and environmental consciousness. “The Hungry Tide” stands as a testament to Ghosh’s literary prowess, offering a lyrical and thought-provoking narrative that transcends time and geography, beckoning readers to immerse themselves in its depths.

In extreme brief, you can summarise the novel’s story like this: Piyali comes to India, Kolkata, to do her research about Irrawaddy Dolphins. She stays at Kanai’s. Kanai, on the other hand, digs out a diary by his uncle that takes readers into the past, during the time of the Morichjhanpi massacre. Fokir, the boatman who takes Piya on her boat into the river, dies trying to save her from an angry storm. 

The novel is historically important. It refers to a historical event, the 1978-79 massacre. Also, it raises environmental concerns and poses paradoxical questions about the delicate balance between humanity and the environment. The storytelling that the author adopts in this novel is the same that he uses in many other novels – multiple timelines exploring different sequences of events. Ghosh pursues a dignified use of language in his works and the present novel is not an exception. It is remarkable to note that Ghosh can produce better, more compelling, and even more serious narratives compared to his senior and junior colleagues like Aravind Adiga and Arundhati Roy, and all this while maintaining the rhythmic flow of language that keeps serious readers lured in the tale that he tells.

In the next part of this study guide, we will go through a detailed summary of the novel. It should be adequate to give a comprehensive overview of the novel to students of literature. Click the links below to explore the novel’s summary, themes, critical observations and other details as required:

The Hungry Tide Novel Summary

Major Episodes in The Hungry Tide Novel



Article by Alok for English Literature Education

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