We have from the author of Circle of Reason (1986) a square, a cube, a tantalizingly misarranged Rubik Cube of Emotion. Action and reaction in Amitav Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines do not follow or justify each other. They are caused by and influence events that are widely distanced in space and time. Relationships are established and broken by acts, feelings and thoughts that belong to other arenas, other theatres, other times.
But somewhere in the juxtapositions of these emotional relationships and episodes, somewhere in their seeming out-of-jointness, order exists: the order of a wordbook in which the pages have all got mixed up, sequence has been shattered, but meaning survives on each page by itself. Every episode is complete and autonomous but interlocked with others that have occurred much earlier, or are to follow much later.