The Opium Clerk

The Opium Clerk

Product ID: 8248

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Author: Kunal Basu
Publisher: Penguin
Year: 2001
Language: English
Pages: 314
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0143027646


A dazzling, inventive debut by a brilliant new talent, this novel is a great adventure and a fascinating saga that sweeps across Asia, part colonial epic, part enthralling history.

Hiran is born in 1857, the year of the Mutiny and the year his father dies. Brought to Calcutta by his widowed mother, he turns out to have few talents, apart from an uncanny ability to read a man's lines in his palm. When luck gets him a job at the auction house, Hiran finds himself embroiled in a mysterious trade, and even more deeply embroiled in the affairs of his nefarious superior, the infamous Mr. Jonathan Crabbe.

Commissioned to procure a child for Mr. Crabbe's opium-addicted wife, somewhere in the slums of Calcutta, Hiran, the simple opium clerk, stumbles upon his own future. He of all men, who can read the lines of fate in a hand, should have been able to foretell how the discovery of the child would change his life forever. A fascinating saga that sweeps across Asia, part colonial, part enthralling history, Kunal Basu's novel is a grand adventure.


A first novel of rare assurance, imaginatively set and richly textured with tales that spin away into elliptical orbits.
- Times Literary Supplement

The feeling of a long dream - nightbound , subterranean, images rising to the surface to be caught by the sun. The sound of voices, distant then near. The sound of one voice, in its own key, singing the dream into daylight. This is Kunal Basu. Listen to him.
- Jeannette Winterson

The blend of personal discovery and political revolt is handled with authority, achieving for India what Romesh Gunesekera's Reef managed for Sri Lanka.
- The Independent on Sunday