In 90 Seconds: Amitav Ghosh on Flood of Fire, English and Writing 

In this short version of the Amitav Ghosh interview, the writer speaks using other languages in his writing. 

2 min read
In 90 Seconds: Amitav Ghosh on Flood of Fire, English and Writing 
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On the occasion of Amitav Ghosh’s 59th birthday, The Quint is republishing an interview with the author from its archives.


Author Amitav Ghosh, who has just released his novel Flood of Fire, which completes the Ibis Trilogy, has given a wide-ranging interview to The Quint. In it, he has spoken about parallels between his writing and contemporary politics, India as the world’s supplier of labour in the 19th century and the biggest challenge of our times.

In this 90-second version of the interview, the writer speaks of his use of different language-words in Flood of Fire.

Watch the 90-second interview here. The transcript is below. Watch out for the entire interview, coming soon.


The Quint: Amitav, [in your] books, there are so many different languages, words from different languages, Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati, Bengali, Cantonese, Creole, Pidgin. Do you think this sort of richness has been completely lost to contemporary times? Now when people speak, it seems [they do so] in a very monolingual way.

Amitav Ghosh: English, you mean?

Q: Yes, English.

Amitav: Yes it’s true. It’s one of the paradoxes of English in the 20th century, that as English became more and more hegemonic, it became also narrower and narrower. 19th century is filled with so many diverse influences, so many different kinds of streams, I really wanted to deploy that in the book to give a sense of this incredibly rich and heterogenous world.

Q: Your books are immensely detailed. They’re captivating. There’s lot of nuance. The characters are instantly relatable, and I for one believe that they read a bit like thrillers do. So in that sense is there any way in which you distinguish between genre fiction and literary fiction?

Amitav: You know, I’ve never wanted to be in the business of what to label my books, or anyone else’s books, so I leave that to wiser minds like yourself (laughs).

Q: On that note, thanks very much! We wish you the very best.

Amitav: Thank you.

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Topics:  literature   Amitav Ghosh   English 

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