Friday, December 19, 2008

The Siege of Krishnapur by J. G. Farrell

The Siege of Krishnapur is a fantastic novel about the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857. Sepoys were native Indian soldiers in the service of the British. The rebellion was sparked by new cartridges that the soldiers had to bite open in order to load into their rifles. The problem was that these cartridges were greased with pork fat, which offended Muslims, or with beef fat, angering the Hindus. And so, the Sepoys rebelled against their British overseers. The Siege of Krishnapur tells the story of the British inhabitants of a small cantonment at Krishnapur that come under siege by the rebelling Sepoys.

This novel is one of the best I have read in my life. Mary McCarthy says in a blurb on the back It has everything you could expect to find in a big old-fashioned novel or several of them -- characters, suspense, military action, romantic attachments, satire, with tenderness, philosophy. This is an apt summary. At times the story is hilariously funny, and at others it is heart achingly sad. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in a good read.


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