Novelist Amitav Ghosh

Novelist Amitav Ghosh takes us into the heart of the 19th century opium trade, when the West fed addiction in China.

Amitav Ghosh (

Amitav Ghosh (

Go back almost two centuries, and the global drug trade is roaring. But it’s not bloody Mexican gangs on the US border. Not even close. It’s British traders and American and more – Union Jacks and Old Glory flying high – pouring opium into imperial China.

Vast quantities of opium in chests piled high in sailing ships and warehouses on the Chinese coast. Up river in Canton. Vast fortunes being made. East and West squaring off over a deadly, debilitating trade. It’s quite a moment.

This hour On Point: novelist Amitav Ghosh takes us deep into that drug trade in “River of Smoke.”

-Tom Ashbrook


Amitav Ghosh, Booker Prize-winning author, his new book, River of Smoke, is the second book of his Ibis trilogy. You can find an excerpt here.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Guardian “Amitav Ghosh’s two latest novels carry us deep inside the opium trade in the 1830s. River of Smoke is the second volume of a proposed trilogy. The first, Sea of Poppies, published in 2008, took us along the Ganges and to Calcutta, where the poppies are grown and the opium processed.”

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