The Glass Palace

by Amitav Ghosh

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The Glass Palace is Indian writer Amitav Ghosh's 2000 epic novel about dynastic families in mid 18th and early 19th century Burma and India.

Rajkumar Raha is the story's main character and protagonist. An orphan who later achieves fortune in the teakwood trade, he is first seen in the story as an impoverished youth at the age of 11. His given name, Rakjumar, means "prince."

As a child, Rajkumar has a chance run-in with Dolly, a servant in the former royal family's palace. She is reunited with him when they are in their early 40s and, together, they have two children: a son Neel (who later dies) and another son Dinu.

Another important character in the story is Saya John, who initially teaches Rajkumar the teakwood business and serves as his mentor through much of the story. Saya John is presented as a wise and personable man. He is the former lover of Ma Cho.

Other characters in the story include the district collector Beni Prasad Dey, Saya John's son Matthew, King Thibaw, and Queen Supayalat.


Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The setting of The Glass Palace begins in the city of Mandalay, with a young boy named Rajkumar, who is the central character of the novel; his life journey through work, love, and national change is the focus of the book.

There are several other important characters in the book. Ma Cho is an entrepreneurial woman for whom Rajkumar works; her food stall is located near the imperial Glass Palace of the royal family of King Thibaw, his wife (Queen Supayalat) and daughters.

Dolly, one of the assistants for the women of the royal family, becomes the young lady who captures the attention and heart of Rajkumar and later becomes his wife. Together, they have two sons, Neel Raha and Dinu Raha. Uma Dey, the collector's wife, is Dolly's close friend and supporter. Uma experiences great transformation throughout the novel.

Saya John is a teak merchant who is a lover of Ma Cho and a guide to learning business for Rajkumar. Doh Say is another business colleague who befriends and aids Rajkumar.

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