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Speaking in tongues: "I love words," says Ghosh

"I love words, I love languages," says Amitav Ghosh, the award-winning Indian novelist. "It's only when you know many languages that you realize there are few boundaries between them." His latest book, Sea of Poppies — recently short-listed for this year's Man Booker Prize — crests along the collision and collusion of tongues found aboard the Ibis, a 19th century schooner plying the Indian Ocean. Its crew speaks a babble of English, Portuguese, Hindustani, Malay, Tamil, Chinese — and yet, through "the alchemy of the open water," as Ghosh writes, they communicate sufficiently well to...

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