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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 469

Amitav Ghosh is the author of the book and also one of its main characters. In the book, he travels through Egypt, looking for sources to better understand the relationship between a Jewish merchant and an Indian slave, and then returns to Egypt years later to find it changed. He's very focused on what the past was like and how it compares to the present. Ghosh is an academic who, at the beginning of his time in Egypt, is working on his doctorate.

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The Slave of MS H.6 is an Indian slave who is owned by a Jewish merchant. He is described as a valuable member of the household of Abraham Ben Yiju and as that man's business agent. Ghosh believes his name might have been Bamma.

Abraham Ben Yiju is a Jewish merchant, scholar, and calligrapher who owned an Indian slave; this pairing is what initially attracted Ghosh's interest. According to Ghosh, he may have had a sweet tooth based on the gifts his friend sent him. He was born in Tunisia and made a lot of money in India before he went to Egypt to live out his life.

Ashu is a slave that Ben Yiju freed. It is posited that she might be the woman who bore his child and also his wife.

Surur is Ben Yiju's son. His mentor, Madmun, sends a piece of coral to him as a gift.

Abu-'Ali is an ill-tempered man in Laitaifa. He hurt his leg as a child, gained weight, and never lost it. He is proud of his many gadgets and is upset that he isn't the first man in the village to get a television set. Ghosh stays in his household for awhile.

Shaikh Musa is one of the elders of the village where Ghosh is staying. He's friendly and trustworthy....

(The entire section contains 469 words.)

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