Jungle Nama by Amitav Ghosh | Book Review

“Thousands of islands rise from the rivers’ rich silts,
crowned with forests of mangrove, rising on stilts.
This is the Sundarban, where laden waters give birth;
to a vast jungle that joins Ocean and Earth.

Jungle Nama is Amitav Ghosh’s verse adaptation of an episode from the legend of Bon Bibi, a tale popular in the villages of the Sundarban, which also lies at the heart of the novel The Hungry Tide. It is the story of the avaricious rich merchant Dhona, the poor lad Dukhey, and his mother; it is also the story of Dokkhin Rai, a mighty spirit who appears to humans as a tiger; of Bon Bibi, the benign goddess of the forest, and her warrior brother Shah Jongoli.

41. Junglenama

I received this book in the HT Brunch Mid-Year hamper and had planned only to skim a couple of pages when I pulled it out of the box. Little did I know I would finish the entire book in a single sitting, reading aloud, chanting to the rhythm.

Jungle Nama tells the story of Dukhey, left behind by the greedy Dhona to be preyed upon by the demonic beast of the Sundarban – Dokkhin Rai. When a panic stricken Dukhey sees no way to escape, he remembers his mother’s words to call upon Bon Bibi, the Lady of the Jungle.

Legend goes that the call must be in dwipodi-poyar – a couplet verse of twenty four syllables. So does Dukhey follow his mother’s instructions in hopes Ma Bon Bibi will save him and set things right.

The book follows the same meter in the telling of this folktale. The poetry is a rhythm to the beauty and magnificence of the Sundarban.

“…every creature had a place, every want was met,
all needs were balanced, like the lines of a couplet.
But in this fleeting world, nothing is forever,
desire is potent, and greed hard to conquer.

Jungle Nama is illustrated by Salman Toor. Some of the most vivid scenes take up a double spread and the monochrome palette adds a richness to the story telling.

With a lot of wisdom behind its words, this engaging folktale, when sung aloud, is delightfully entertaining, and will be enjoyed by adults as well as children.

Jungle Nama: A Story of the Sundarban by Amitav Ghosh. Illustrated by Salman Toor. Published in February 2021 by Fourth Estate, an imprint of HarperCollins India.

Book 41 of 2022.

Aquamarine Flavours Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟.

Available on Amazon*.

About Photo: Dokkhin Rai, the beast, appears as a tiger to humans.
This 3d papercraft model of the tiger is cut from 210gsm cartridge paper using a template by Canon Creative Park.
41. Junglenamab
About the Author: Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta in 1956, and grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka; he studied in Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria. He is the author of several acclaimed works of fiction and non-fiction including The Shadow Lines, In an Antique Land, The Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide, the Ibis Trilogy, Gun Island, The Great Derangement, The Nutmeg’s Curse and Jungle Nama.
Amitav Ghosh’s work has been translated into more than thirty languages. His essays have appeared in the New Yorker, the New Republic and the New York Times. He has been awarded and honoured across the world for his work. In 2019 Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the most important global thinkers of the past decade. The same year, the Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary honour, was conferred on him: he was the first English-language writer to receive it.
You can find him on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.
About the Illustrator: Salman Toor was born in Lahore in 1983; he lives and works in New York. He received his MFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. Salman Toor: How Will I Know, the artist’s first institutional solo exhibition, opened at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York in 2020. Toor’s work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions and projects, including Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Are You Here?, the Lahore Biennale 2018; and the 2016 Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India. Toor is the recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant, and his work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Tate, London; M Woods, Beijing; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
You can find him on Instagram.
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3 thoughts on “Jungle Nama by Amitav Ghosh | Book Review

  1. Pingback: Reminiscing about 2022 | #BrunchBookChallenge – Aquamarine Flavours

  2. Pingback: 2022’s Chosen Reads – Aquamarine Flavours

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