Review of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones

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Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, New York, Boston

Year of Publication: 2002

Price: $7.50 US/$9.50 Canada

Paper Back. 372 pages.

Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones I thought was one of those mesmerising books as the blurb promised. It also assured to be a ‘whodunnit’, by the way I am a great admirer of ‘whodunnits’ . So with great excitement I took the book along with me when I travelled to Bhubaneshwar Well,  I managed to finish reading The Lovely Bones but I must say it was disappointing. The story is set in the year 1973 in a small town in US. Susie Salmon on her way from school at the age of 14 is killed by a neighbour, Mr. Harvey. Susie then goes to heaven where she befriends Holly and also learns that heaven is not such a perfect place. The story is narrated from her position of an onlooker who watches what is happening on earth. She is also able to come to earth now and then which we readers can expect to be a ghostly visit. Her eerie presence is only felt by another young girl –Ruth–in the town.

On earth, her family is totally devastated by her death and her father goes into shock and starts neglecting his family. Due to this Susie’s mother leaves the family and goes away. Len the police officer wishes to catch the murderer but is unable to do so. The story then proceeds to unravel the trajectory of Susie’s sister, Lindsey and brother, Buckley’s lives. The novel ends by Harvey been indicted not for Susie’s death but for other murders he had committed earlier. Susie’s parents reunite and Lindsey gets married. The birth of Lindsey’s daughter, Abigail Suzanne is the note of hope and regeneration in the novel.

What really put me off about the novel is its pathetic slow narrative movement, maybe that is the reason reviews have called it captivating and gripping. It may be emotional drama but definitely not my cup of tea. Also the fact that Mr. Harvey gets off with all the crime that too in a nation like US of A is somehow a bit too much to gulp down. Added to this is the fact that the police seem ineffectual and useless. Personally I was disenchanted by the novel. Maybe it may appeal to some.

The Crow Chronicles (Ranjit Lal) – Review

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Title: The Crow Chronicles
Author: Ranjit Lal
Publicatons: Penguin Publications
Year of publication: 1996
Type: Paperback

Colonisation, one expects is over in most nations. The bitter fact is that colonization has meant only independence at a political level and what has emerged today instead of being a liberated nation, is a country besot with tyranny. Literary theories such as postcolonialism refer to this as neocolonialism. Neocolonialism does not involve direct political control; nevertheless, it involves certain amount of dominance and hegemony. Most countries that have emerged out of the colonial paradigm suffer from this aspect. A work that satirizes and reveals the truth about such a neocolonial mentality is the wonderful fictional work by  Ranjit Lal entitled, The Crow Chronicles.

Ranjit Lal, himself a bird watcher and bird lover uses the common crow to very subtly point to the power politics that is indulged in many nations. In a way, the novel sounds as a metaphor for the Indian life. The use of the megalomaniacal white crow, Shri Katarnak Kala Kaloota Kawa Kaw-Kaw is a symbol of how corruption, manipulation and cunningness are part of the political psyche. The use of white is also effective explaining the slave mentality of Indians towards the fair skin. Kala Kaloota born in  Bombay now known as Mumbai moves into the Keoladeo National Park to take over and enjoy the monopolistic rule of the park by the crows. In this sense, the novel highlights the fact of how minorities are trampled upon by a majority force. The novel is a political satire like Orwell’s Animal Farm foregrounding the break-down of the official government system. If Animal Farm was a statement against communism and totalitarian government then The Crow Chronicles is a statement against monarchy. The novel depicts how monarchy too, in the wrong hands could lead to curtailment of individual freedom as well as community freedom.

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