I am most of the way through a new book, Sea of Poppies, by Amitav Ghosh, and I thought I would like to recommend it. The book starts in Baltimore, 1838, where a young man, son of freed slaves, takes a chance and signs on to the Ibis, a former slave ship, headed to India, purchased to take part in the China opium trade. Before heading to China, the ship is to revert to it's former purpose and transport Indian indentured workers or coolies to Mauritius to work on plantations.
With a fantastic range of characters and an intricate story line this book transports you to the sounds, smells and motion of 1838 Calcutta. British gentlemen, upper caste Rajas, Laskar sailors, religious Indian fanatics, indentured Indian coolies fleeing vengeful families all help fill the story with details of the times and make it hard to put the book down.
The book is a little kite related as one of the main characters, Raja Neel Rattan Halder, is a kite flyer, flying fighter kites from the roof of his family home with his son. So I added the book to my book store at Mainekites.com .