From the bestselling author of the Ibis trilogy and The Great Derangement, The Nutmeg's Curse is an enthralling, panoramic history of the influence of colonialism on the world today, told through the surprising story of the nutmeg.
'One of the finest writers of his generation' Financial Times
Before the 18th century, every single nutmeg in the world originated around a group of small volcanic islands east of Java, known as the Banda Islands. As the nutmeg made its way across the known world, they became immensely valuable - in 16th century Europe, just a handful could buy a house. It was not long before European traders became conquerors, and the indigenous Bandanese communities - and the islands themselves - would pay a high price for access to this precious commodity. Yet the bloody fate of the Banda Islands forewarns of a threat to our present day.
Amitav Ghosh argues that the nutmeg's violent trajectory from its native islands is revealing of a wider colonial mindset which justifies the exploitation of human life and the natural environment, and which dominates geopolitics to this day.
Written against the backdrop of the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests, and interweaving discussions on everything from climate change, the migrant crisis, and the animist spirituality of indigenous communities around the world, The Nutmeg's Curse offers a sharp critique of Western society, and reveals the profoundly remarkable ways in which human history is shaped by non-human forces.
Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta in 1956. He grew up in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India. He studied at the universities of Delhi and Oxford and published the first of eight novels, The Circle of Reason in 1986. He currently divides his time between Calcutta, Goa and Brooklyn. The first novel in his Ibis trilogy, Sea of Poppies, was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize.