“It opens up a new form of storytelling,” says Amitav Ghosh as he talks about turning his Jungle Nama into an audiobook

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With the evolution of the publishing industry, audiobooks are the thing that has caught everyone’s attention. They’ve created a distinct fan following. Audible, an audio storyteller and provider, has been offering audiobooks to bibliophiles for some time.

And, their latest offering is from acclaimed author Amitav Ghosh. His Jungle Nama has been converted into an audiobook. This verse adaptation of an episode from the legend of Bon Bibi – a well-known tale of the Sunderbans – is at the heart of Ghosh’s novel, The Hungry Tide.

Jungle Nama becoming a book and later an audiobook is quite intriguing. Ghosh states the reasons quite simply. “In the Sunderbans, the story of Bon Bibi, Dukhey and Dokkhin Rai exists in different forms – as text, performance, oral narrative, etc. I wanted to create a story that would exist in different iterations – like a print book, audiobook, graphic novel, performance, etc. Therefore, the idea of ​​an audiobook was there from the start. And luckily I got to work with Ali Sethi, who is an extremely talented musician. He created something more than an audiobook on Audible – it’s a rich soundtrack, with songs and music he composed especially for this purpose.

Like other stories, this tale is guided by the characters and their relationships. “And the characters are, I think, interesting because they tell us a lot about conflicts and difficult situations in real life, especially for people who live in places like the Sunderbans. For example, there is the rich and greedy merchant Dhona, who wants to exploit his poor relative, Dukhey. It is a kind of inter-family dynamic that is very common. Likewise, there is the relationship between poor boy Dukhey and his mother: she wants to keep him at home while he wants to try his luck in the world and earn money, like others his age. It is a familiar situation all over India. But in this story, there is also a major non-human character, Dokkhin Rai, who is both a tiger and a spirit, who knows how to play on human greed to get what he wants, ”Ghosh shares.

Ghosh says he had fun working on the audiobook. While the technical details have been handled by his publisher HarperCollins, he is passionate about audio support. “For writers and creators, it opens up a new form of storytelling and allows them not only to work with their written words but also to express themselves through their voices and sounds. People say audio is a new medium. But in fact, I think it brings a feeling of nostalgia. The storytelling is so ingrained into the very fabric of Indian culture and dates back many generations. Audible provides access to a variety of untold stories the way the stories were told while listening.

He has more to discuss about how audiobooks interest him as a writer and reader. “An audiobook is a convenient way for people to consume a book by commuting, traveling, or multitasking. They can often bring a whole new dimension to books through programming, detailed sound production and the effects that go into making them. What makes Jungle Nama’s audiobook so special is the soundtrack Ali Sethi created for the text. It adds a lot to the book and really elevates it.

Bibliophiles discuss the battle between physical copy, eBooks, and audiobooks. Ghosh has almost stopped reading paper books these days. “I find it very convenient to read e-books or listen to audiobooks, especially when traveling. “

Arguably his latest book, The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis, came at the right time when climate change hit the world. Ghosh says, “I have been thinking and writing about climate change and other aspects of our current global crisis for a long time. The Nutmeg Curse brings together several of my thoughts on this topic. One of the main ideas of the book is that contemporary writers must find a way to give voice to non-human beings. Jungle Nama tries to do just that.

The magician named Amitav Ghosh worked his magic through his calligraphy. Now it’s the turn of readers and listeners.

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Posted on: Sunday, December 12, 2021, 7:00 a.m. IST


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