When I first read The Shadow Lines, l was a graduate student in the US, battling through the maze of too-much-theory, multiple fraught subject positions and the various options for post-colonial mimicry. As a novel about border-crossings, hybrid subjects and post-colonial travels, The Shadow Lines fitted very well with my dissertation needs as well as the prevalent fashionable interpretive agendas of the day. 1 Yet, my pleasure at reading the novel was because it was about home. As I sorted through my post-colonial traumas in small-town North America, the novel named the streets of Calcutta that I had grown up in. So much for missing home. A few years later, I came to London. This time, my partner and I used The Shadow Lines as a precious tour guide to 'ethnic' London. We meticulously charted out our forty-five minute tube journey from Wood Green to Brick Lane in quest not only of the Sylheti-accented Bengali that Ghosh's novel promised, but to assure ourselves of the existence of postcolonial London.
Singh, Sujala, Inventing London in Amitav Ghosh's The Shadow Lines, Kunapipi, 21(2), 1999.