Saturday, June 14, 2014

Shelf Candy Saturday #116: Sea of Poppies, by Amitav Ghosh


Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!!

This is my weekly feature
showcasing beautiful book covers!
It also provides information,
if available, on their very talented creators!

For more information
about Shelf Candy Saturday,
just click HERE.

This week, I'm comparing
two covers for the same book!

 Sea of Poppies
(Ibis Trilogy, #1)
Trade Paperback, 480 pages
Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux
Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

Why do I love this cover?

This is such a perfect, beautiful example of the use of rhythm to create dynamic movement!  The stylized waves create a repetitious flow over the lower half of the cover that is just very compelling.  The large, brilliantly-colored poppies go perfectly with the waves, too.  The tiny ship is at the bottom of the cover, enclosed in a circle, which is surrounded by what look like more stylized waves, with brown foam shooting up between them.

The colors are just perfect for this cover, too.  Everything just flows together just right.  The colors and rhythmic, stylized design remind me strongly of a famous print by the great Japanese artist, Hokusai. Although the waves in this cover are much more abstract than the ones in the print, the sense of movement is similar.  The print is titled "The Great Wave of Kanagawa".

The font used for the title and author's name looks Arabic, or perhaps Oriental.  The author is from India, so this novel is part of Asian Literature. Sea of Poppies was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2008.

Unfortunately this is another case of a great cover whose designer I have been unable to find any information about.....  When I own the book, I'll be able to see who this highly talented person is.  Not even Amazon's online reader has been of help here, since the cover shown in the reader is another one, which, compared to the one above, falls well below the mark for a beautiful book cover!  Just take a look below....


This is the new cover for the novel.  The one above is now only available from third-party sellers on Amazon US, as well as Amazon CA.  I've checked out Barnes & Noble as well as Amazon UK and The Book Depository; B&N features this second cover, while the other two sites also feature it, and other covers, as well.

This second cover, which was apparently created in the U.S., doesn't do a thing for me.  Had I seen  it displayed on a table at Barnes & Noble recently, I would simply have passed it up.  The first one, on the other hand, would have made me stop to investigate!  

This second cover doesn't have any of the complex, graphically bold beauty of the first one.  Nor does it have that dynamic, graceful rhythm.  The poppies are basically wilting parodies of the real flower.  Draping them over the letters of the font, which, by the way, I find totally boring to look at, does nothing to suggest the motion of the sea.  In short, this cover is inferior by far!

I hope you have enjoyed looking at the first cover! I think it's utterly gorgeous, and it's a real shame that it's been replaced by the vastly inferior second cover, as well as others, which I decided not to show here, because then this post would be much longer than it already is.  Besides, none of them can compare in beauty to that first cover above!

What did you think 
of my choice this week?
Please leave me a comment 
and let me know!



  1. Another great pick Maria.

    When I saw the cover I tried to think about how I would describe it before reading what you had written. I really love it yet felt it difficult to describe in words. Perhaps simplicity is more enigmatic then complexity!

    Your description is perfect. "Flowing" and "rhythmic" are perfect words.

    The Great Wave off Kanagawa is an appropriate comparison.

    Agreed that the second cover pales in comparison.

    1. Hey, Brian!

      Oh, I love the way you put it: "Perhaps simplicity is more enigmatic than complexity!" I totally agree; this is definitely very true at times.

      Thanks for the compliment on my description! Yes, this cover design is indeed flowing and rhythmic! And the first image that hit my mind was that famous Hokusai print, although there are differences between this cover design and the print.

      I believe the second cover is the one for the US edition, unfortunately....I can understand that each country a book is published in would want their own cover, but I also think that publishers should get together and decide on ONE universal cover for the book -- the most beautiful one! And I'm very picky about covers. I hate to buy a book with an ugly or boring cover, even if it means I'll pay less for the book! If I can't afford the most beautiful cover, though, I do have to end up settling for a less beautiful one.......

      Glad you like my choice! Thanks for another great comment!! : )

  2. That first cover is absolutely beautiful! I too would prefer that cover than the second one, but I still like the second one. Though it's not as intricate as the first cover, I really like how the poppies stand out with all the red in the second cover. Again, if I had to choose from those two covers, I would also pick the first one since it has more character.

    1. Hey, Vonnie!

      I'm so glad you agree!! Yes, that first cover is SO much more beautiful than the second one! However, I do agree with you that the contrast of the poppies with the rest of the second cover is pretty nice. Still, the first cover is just absolutely STUNNING. The second one is just not even a close second! And the first definitely has more character to it.

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting!! : )


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