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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