The Hungry Tide is set in Sunderbans, a labyrinth of tiny islands in The Bay Of Bengal, where dangerous tides and tigers are as common for the settlers as the air they breathe in. It is a story of three very different people coming together for an unlikely adventure, one that will greatly alter their lives in ways they could never imagine. Piya Roy, a first generation American marine biologist sets out to the Sunderbans in search for a rare species of Dolphins. After Fakir, an illiterate, young fisherman saves Piya’s life, when she finds herself being thrown off into the crocodile infested waters of the Sunderbans from a boat, these two form a captivating and enthralling bond due to their knowledge and keen interest of the ways of the sea. The only barrier between them seems to be the lack of a common language. Help comes in the form of Kanai Dutt, a Delhi based businessman, who agrees to act as a translator between the duo. This is where their journey of a lifetime begins.
In Piya and Kanai’s world, they prefer structure and order, supported by facts of science and business. Their beliefs are questioned to the core in Sunderbans, which serves as a metaphor for things in life being absolutely ephemeral. This already mysterious land alters continuously due to the ever-present tides- like a magician; unconvinced to reveal even his most simple trick to the audience. The narrative moves smoothly between past and present. A refugee crisis and political background swiftly serving as the backdrop of the entire plot, without the focus being removed from its three main characters dealing with a rollercoaster of emotions and events.
While some subtopics may have been downplayed, it is not wrong to say, this piece of literature strips bare all its characters down to the essence of their being, presenting them as awfully human as possible. The bond between humanity and environment is both questioned and praised. Ghosh manages to paint an effective picture of a world where humans and other animals are not too different from each other- both finding ways to adapt to the ever-changing environment which none can escape from.
The Hungry Tide is like a posh, complicated recipe, which needs to be prepared with the utmost sensitivity and care, with a touch of fearlessness and raw emotions. Ghosh seems to possess an uncanny ability of being able to pick up distinctively different themes like adventure, identity, history, humanity, refugees, and political events and weave them into a mesmerizing plot- poignantly honest, yet hopeful.