Ghosh said efforts to improve energy efficiency or substituting dirty fuels by solar or wind energy would bring about only incremental benefits: IE

Amitav Ghosh
Amitav Ghosh

The consumption patterns of the western countries and their lifestyles are completely at odds with the fight against climate change, author Amitav Ghosh has argued. Neither technology nor alternative sources of energy like solar or wind can ensure similar lifestyles to other people without completely jeopardising the earth’s future.

Ghosh’s latest book, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, deals with, what he says is, the “most difficult issue that this world has ever faced”.

By Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

Rosemarie Somiah PixLet’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

I started writing because someone was willing to pay me to do so. Otherwise I doubt I would’ve had the courage. Most of my first published works were commissioned and some of it ended up in performance. I still get paid, or invited, to write, and I use every such opportunity to say what I really need to say; to share a little of what’s banging and knocking around inside of me – all these questions that won’t go away. It’s still very, very scary, every single time.

Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?

I usually have a few things going on at a time, because letting it sit at the back of my head is part of my writing process. Right now there are three active projects: I am working on ‘The Never Mind Girl 2’ because there are still many questions that I need to ask there. Then, there is a children’s picture book that is somewhat dark but important, because it is very real. I’m hoping that the right illustrator will turn up. I am also very excited to be working with several people, including a very talented young musician, on a performance piece of poetry. It astonishes and delights me when I retell other people’s stories on their behalf and they seem happy with it and feel it represents them accurately. Especially as I reshape and tell it from my perspective.

Amitav Ghosh
Amitav Ghosh

Ghosh, 58, has recently finished a monumental project, the Ibis trilogy of books, which took him more than 10 years to write. For a decade he lived mainly in a parallel universe of his own creation, several centuries back in time. “I was in a deep, deep tunnel for years and years and years. I really didn’t have any time or any energy to give to anything else, apart from my family.”

Amitav Ghosh
Amitav Ghosh

Calcutta is the port from where Amitav Ghosh’s latest novel embarks on its journey but plays out on the high seas on route to China, which is the setting of the greater part of it, as it plunges into the First Opium War. The one question about  Flood of Fire that Ghosh has been inundated with, repeatedly, from subsequent interviewers is whether the reader will see the same characters reappear or will they be replaced by others. Ghosh has indicated that the characters take on their own minds, emerging as a prominent player in one book maybe, while subsiding into a minor one in another, allowing for others to dominate in the next.

“One of the main characters in this book is Deeti’s brother, Kesri Singh, a havildar who has been mentioned a few times in the earlier books,” he reveals. And like the unfair question asked of a parent to name his or her favorite child, he has been badgered into naming his most loved character from all his creations which forms the crew of the Ibis. Most loved or not, it’s Neel Halder, who stands out. Recently, he called him his “Apu” in reply to a question by historian Sharmistha Gooptu. Like Satyajit Ray’s protagonist in the Apu trilogy based on Bibhuti Bhushan Bandyopadhyay’s story, Neel doesn’t just run through all three stories but holds forth.