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Amitav Ghosh Biography

This article was updated on June 13, 2019.

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Amitav Ghosh, famous Indian English writer, was born in Kolkata (former name Calcutta) in 1956. His father was a lieutenant-colonel in the army. As a result, he got to travel to different parts of the world.

Thus, Amitav Ghosh was raised and educated in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Iran, Egypt, India and the United Kingdom. He received his early education at the Doon School, Dehradun, and later went to Delhi University for his higher Studies. Here, he completed his graduation from St, Stephen’s College in History, followed by Masters in Sociology from Delhi School of Economics. After completing his Masters of Arts, he earned a diploma in Arabic from Institut Bourguiba Des Langues Vivantes, Tunis, Tunisia. Then he went to Oxford University where he earned his doctorate (D.Phil) in Social Anthropology in 1982.

He is a versatile writer and his novels have won many literary awards. His first novel, ‘The Circle of Reason’ won the Prix Medicis Etranger, one of the top literary awards of France. His second novel ‘Shadow Lines’ won the famous Sahitya Akademi award, the most prestigious literary prize awarded by the government of India, in 1990. He received another award, the Ananda Puraskar, Kolkata for the same book. Another of his books, ‘Calcutta Chromosome’, received Arthur C. Clarke award for 1997. In 2001, his novel ‘Glass Palace’ won the grand prize for fiction at the Frankfurt International e-book award. He achieved another milestone when he won the 1999 Pushcart Prize, a leading literary award, for one of his essays that was published in the Kenyon Review. His book ’In An Antique Land’ was given the New York Times Notable Book of 1993 Award. The ‘Hungry Tide’, and ‘The Great Derangement; Climate Change and the Unthinkable’ are some of his other famous works. The most famous perhaps is the Ibis Trilogy – “Sea of Poppies” (shortlisted for Booker 2008), “River of Smoke” and “Flood of Fire”. Gun Island, a novel about a dealer of rare books who is forced to embark on an extraordinary journey, is his latest work, released in June 2019.

Apart from fiction, Amitav Ghosh is also involved in writing non-fiction. His major non-fictions include ‘Countdown’, a book on India’s nuclear policy, the ‘Imam and the Indians’, a collection of essays on various topics such as history of the novel, Egyptian culture and literature, and ‘Dancing in Cambodia, At Large in Burma’, a collection of travel essays. Amitav Ghosh was awarded the Padma Shri by the government of India in 2007. Currently he is living in New York with his wife, Deborah Baker, who is the author of ‘In Extremis: The Life of Laura Riding’ and is working as a senior editor at Little, Brown and Co. Ghosh joined the faculty of the Queens College in the City University of New York as a distinguished professor in comparative literature. Moreover, since 1995 he has been the visiting professor to the English Department of Harvard University. In December 2018, Ghosh became the first writer in English to be chosen for the confernment of the Bharatiya Gnanpith Award, the highest literary award in India, for “outstanding contribution towards literature” in any of the official Indian languages.

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