Maya Jaggi


    The Indian Ocean, with its ancient patterns of trade and empire, has buoyed Amitav Ghosh’s writing for twenty years. The Shadow Lines (1988), his second novel, examines the partition of Bengal, while his anthropological travelogue In an Antique Land (1992) probes age-old ties between India and Egypt. The best-selling novel The Glass Palace (2000) is set between Burma and India circa the Second World War, and The Hungry Tide (2004) explores the mangrove forests and marginal peoples of the Sundarbans tidal plain. His sixth novel, the first in a projected trilogy, traces the global effects of a

  • Unhappy Returns

    In Nuruddin Farah’s first novel, From a Crooked Rib, a young woman’s rebellion against traditional Somali society subtly mirrors the modern nation’s struggle for autonomy. That 1970 debut, written when Farah was a twenty-three-year-old philosophy student (and recently reissued by Penguin), exposed the brutalities of infibulation—a pre-Islamic custom—and forced marriage through the eyes of its nomadic heroine, Ebla, spurring recognition of its male author’s uncompromising feminism.

    Forceful women characters, and an anatomy of family relationships from the viewpoint of those who have the least