The Hungry Tide

by Amitav Ghosh

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Student Question

What are the important settings in The Hungry Tide?

Quick answer:

Some of the important settings in The Hungry Tide, which mainly takes place in the Sundarban islands of India and Bangladesh, are Canning, Lusibari, the mangrove swamps, and the island where Piya and Fokir seek refuge.

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The Hungry Tide is set in and around the mangrove swamps of the Sundarbans, a group of islands off the coast of India and Bangladesh. The town of Canning on the coast and Lusibari Island are two named locations that figure prominently in the novel. Much of the action occurs in the mangrove swamps while Piya is a passenger on Fokir’s boat. Near the novel’s end, seeking shelter from a ferocious storm, Piya and Fokir disembark on a tiny, unnamed island.

The novel begins with Piya and Kanai meeting on a train heading west through India. The end of the line is at Canning. Although they do not tarry there but continue on to the islands, Canning is later revealed as historically significant. It had gained an important role as a symbol of the unwise development policies that the British rulers had imposed.

Kanai spends his time on Lusibari, where he has relatives and had visited as a child. It is the invitation of his aunt that has drawn him there, as she wants him to read a notebook that her late husband had written. This island also figures later in the novel, as Piya decides to stay and work there.

Because Piya’s project is to study dolphins, she enlists the aid of Fokir, a local man with a boat. They spend considerable time on the boat, moving among the numerous islands in the mangrove swamp. Unfortunately a devastating storm comes up and, although they reach dry land on a tiny island, Fokir perishes in the storm.

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