Piya is a cetologist (a biologist specializing in marine mammals) who comes to the Sundarbans to conduct a survey of the river dolphins. Though she was born in Calcutta to Bengali parents, Piya grew up… read analysis of Piya Roy
Kanai is a wealthy middle-aged translator who works in New Delhi. When he was ten, he was sent to the Sundarbans to live with his aunt Nilima and uncle Nirmal as punishment for misbehaving in… read analysis of Kanai Dutt
Nirmal was Nilima's husband. As a young man, Nirmal was a Marxist intellectual and a promising writer who taught English at a college in Calcutta. He suffered a mental break after being arrested for… read analysis of Nirmal Bose
Nilima, who is known simply as Mashima (Aunt) on Lusibari, is Kanai's aunt and Nirmal's wife. Nilima grew up wealthy in Calcutta and met Nirmal while in college in the late 1940s. She… read analysis of Nilima Bose
Kusum was the person who brought the Morichjhãpi conflict to life for Nirmal. Though nobody knows exactly what happened, she died during the conflict in 1979 and never appears directly in the novel; Nirmal… read analysis of Kusum
Horen is a fisherman who lives on an island that neighbors Lusibari. In his youth, he greatly admires Nirmal and Nilima and often offers to do favors for them, as when he takes Nirmal, Nilima… read analysis of Horen Naskor
Moyna is Fokir's wife and a trainee nurse at the Lusibari hospital. Though she loves Fokir, she also finds him difficult and exasperating. She thinks little of his work as a fisherman, as she… read analysis of Moyna
Sir Daniel Hamilton
Sir Daniel Hamilton, or "S'Daniel," was a Scotsman who made his fortune selling tickets for ship passages in British India at the turn of the twentieth century. In 1903, he bought land in the Sundarbans… read analysis of Sir Daniel Hamilton
Henry Piddington is the man responsible for naming the cyclone storms that ravage the Sundarbans. He was a low-level official in the English government in British India and warned Lord Canning that it was foolish… read analysis of Henry Piddington
The Forest Guard
The forest service guard is ordered to accompany Piya on her survey of the Sundarbans. Though he seems reasonable at first (despite his required firearm), he soon shows Piya that he's not to be trusted… read analysis of The Forest Guard
Mejda is the boat pilot who the forest guard insists that Piya hire. He initially piques her interest because he asks if the dolphins on her flashcards are birds, but soon proves dangerous and predatory—he… read analysis of Mejda
Lord Canning was the English lord responsible for planning and building Port Canning on the Matla River. He conceived of it as a port city to rival Singapore and Hong Kong and chose not to… read analysis of Lord Canning
Rath was a Cambodian man in the Cambodian Forest Service. Piya worked near him while she was there, and the two eventually formed a romantic relationship. Though they kept in contact initially when Piya left… read analysis of Rath
Bon Bibi is the goddess of the forest, and the residents of the Sundarbans worship her. She and her twin brother, Shah Jongoli, protect the Sundarbans from evil and from tigers. In the… read analysis of Bon Bibi
Dukhey is one of the main characters in the tale The Glory of Bon Bibi. His name means "misery," and he leads a miserable life. He's forced to accompany Dhona on his journey to… read analysis of Dukhey
Piya describes her father as the perfect immigrant: he did his best to leave his memories of India and Indian customs behind after he and Piya's mother moved to Seattle when Piya was a baby… read analysis of Piya's Father
Kusum met Rajen when she went to find her mother in Dhanbad. He was a kind man who had become disabled after a bus accident. He offered Kusum a place to stay in his shack… read analysis of Rajen
Dokkhin Rai is a tiger demon who lurks in the Sundarbans. He has an insatiable desire for human flesh. In The Glory of Bon Bibi, he strikes a deal with Dhona, a ship… read analysis of Dokkhin Rai
Tutul is Fokir and Moyna's five-year-old son. He's a precocious and helpful boy who, as far as Piya can tell, loves to be out on the water with his father. Moyna, however, tries her best to keep Tutul home so he can attend school.
Dilip was a wealthy man in the Sundarbans who preyed on vulnerable women in the 1970s. He offered to "help" them and then sold them into sexual slavery. He did this to Kusum's mother, though Horen and Nilima saved Kusum from the same fate.
Dhona is the greedy ship's captain in the story The Glory of Bon Bibi. He makes a deal with Dokkhin Rai to give the demon the boy Dukhey in exchange for the riches of the forest.
Shah Jongoli is Bon Bibi's twin brother. Though he's the one to deal the final blow to Dokkhin Rai in the story The Glory of Bon Bibi, he's a relatively minor character and isn't worshipped with the same zeal as his twin.
Piya's mother was a deeply depressed woman. She spent the last years of her life in Seattle locked in the bedroom away from Piya's father, allowing only Piya into the room. She died of cervical cancer when Piya was twelve.
After the death of Kusum's father, Kusum's mother, having few other options, accepted Dilip Choudhury's offer of "help." He sold her into sexual slavery instead, and she died not long after Kusum married.
Kusum's father was killed by a tiger when Kusum was a child.
Horen's fourteen-year-old grandson.