Connected Histories

In an Antique Land
by Amitav Ghosh

Moving between past and present, anthropologist Amitav Ghosh presents a lyrical portrait of life in Egypt, as well as broad histories of that country, Tunisia, and India’s Malabar Coast. Ghosh weaves strands of his own life in rural Egypt into the story he is researching of a twelfth-century Jewish merchant and his slave.  Exploiting an extraordinary cache of medieval documents in Cairo, Ghosh is able to piece together a fascinating story illuminating the reach of medieval Egyptian trade and cross-cultural interaction; he also tells of a form of slavery very different from the one familiar to most Americans. Especially for readers seeking an understanding of the complexity and interconnected nature of the lands and cultures on the periphery of the Indian Ocean, there are few better reads than In an Antique Land.

New York: Vintage Departures, Vintage Books, 1994


Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and raised and educated in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Iran, Egypt, India, and the United Kingdom. He holds a PhD in social anthropology from Oxford University. Acclaimed for fiction, travel writing, and journalism, he has also written The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, and Dancing in Cambodia, among other books. He has won France's Prix Médicis étranger, India's prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the Pushcart Prize. He now divides his time between Harvard University, where he is a visiting professor, and his homes in India and New York.

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