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 full character analysis)
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 full character analysis)
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 full character analysis)
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 full character analysis)
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 full character analysis)
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 full character analysis)
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 full character analysis)
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 full character analysis)
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 full character analysis)
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 full character analysis)
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 full character analysis)
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 full character analysis)
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 full character analysis)
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 full character analysis)
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 full character analysis)
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 full character analysis)
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 full character analysis)
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.