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Siege Of Krishnapur (Empire Trilogy #2)

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  4,701 Ratings  ·  416 Reviews
The Siege of Krishnapur is a modern classic of narrative excitement that also digs deep to explore some fundamental questions of civilisation and life.
Paperback, 314 pages
Published January 1st 1999 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson His (first published 1973)
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Robert Irish In terms of order of writing, this is the middle one (Troubles, 1970; Singapore Grip, 1978). Because they're dealing with such different stories, I…moreIn terms of order of writing, this is the middle one (Troubles, 1970; Singapore Grip, 1978). Because they're dealing with such different stories, I don't think it matters which you read first. They're a "trilogy" in theme.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jibran
We look on past ages with condescension, as a mere preparation for us....but what if we are a mere after-glow of them?

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it was the first prominent novel, when it came out back in the 70s, that poked fun at the raison d’être of British rule in India; maybe it was a pioneering attempt by a [British] writer to show the absurdity of colonial superiority by laying bare its own inner inconsistencies through well-crafted British characters battling their own civilisational demon
...more
Paul Bryant
Dec 28, 2016 Paul Bryant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
I am seeing stuff about this novel which says like “I read a paragraph and fell asleep for 48 hours, this is one boring book”, or “I read a page of this, it took a fortnight, this is the opposite of fun”. But I don’t get that, they are saying that no shit is happening in this book but it’s about a siege man so you can bet shit is happening, there is cholera and legs off and piles of bodies and mangy dogs that will eat other dogs and people get boils a lot, I didn’t know that was such a big thing ...more
William1
Mar 24, 2011 William1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 20-ce, uk
A fictionalized account of the Indian Mutiny (1857), as the British call it, or the First War of Independence, as it's known in India. I agree with my GR friend Mark Monday who felt there was insufficient adventure here. We don't get any great battlefield set pieces, or much in the line of guerrilla warfare either. Instead, the story focuses on a relatively small group of twenty or so British subjects within the government compound of Lucknow, disguised here as Krishnapur, and how they fend off ...more
Tony
Aug 27, 2015 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My views on colonialism are such that in this recounting of battle between Brits and mutinous Sepoys, I had no trouble rooting for the home team.

Farrell feels the same way. Even the most kind-hearted of his characters are flawed, if only because they just don't get it or can't make themselves understood.

Yet, this telling of the Great Mutiny is Anglo-centric. So this is not about why the Sepoys mutinied. Of course they did. No, this is about the British who were there, and about how they could ha
...more
mark monday
fairly enjoyable overall and the period details are particularly fascinating. or maybe i just have a thing for the specific era on display. unfortunately something left me cold about this novel. perhaps it was the lack of old-fashioned adventure in what was a tale of a very bloody and very lengthy siege. perhaps it was the constantly ironic and semi-comic portraits of the characters, both english and indian. although the author uses his barbed wit in a rather unique fashion, as an approach to an ...more
Jessica
Oct 23, 2012 Jessica marked it as aborted-efforts  ·  review of another edition
So last night my baby grabbed this book off my nightstand where it's been moldering for a month and ran around the room with it, shrieking, until the cover was crumpled and the bookmark had fallen out and got stomped on the floor.

I didn't stop her and reclaim the book until I was sure that she'd lost my place.

I wanted to join the worldly, intelligent ranks of Mary McCarthy and everyone else who's ever picked up The Siege of Krishnapur but now that the bookmark's been removed I'm throwing in the
...more
Andrew
Nov 10, 2007 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I consider myself lucky that I ended up reading this book after the other two in Farrell's empire trilogy, Troubles and The Singapore Grip. Farrell captured me when I picked up Troubles on a free table at my old Job. It was a supremely clever book, and I couldn't wait to find more by the author. The Singapore Grip was compelling as well, but seemed unwieldy. I don't thing Farrell had complete control of the plot and message, and the book suffers from the lack of direction. Perhaps it was the pre ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Oct 20, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Man Booker 1973
Definitely well-written, a joy to read and deserving of its Booker Prize in 1973. It is the story of a siege that according to Wiki was part of the Indian Rebellion in 1857 against British colonizers in India. In that siege, a small group of British people had to fend for themselves in a small community (that reminded me of a Jewish ghetto) for more than a month so when they finally got out, they were like, or even worse, than the Indians that they used to look down or ridicule as colonizers.

It
...more
Cathy
So, so good. Plotwise, it's kind of Camus' The Plague meets Gunga Din or something -- Brits end up holed up in the administrator's residence in a remote Indian town during the Sepoy mutiny, and you get to see everyone's personality under pressure. It seems to me that I have read a lot of books about groups of people trapped somewhere with the food running out and the pressure on, and what becomes of them -- so, it's not very original on that level, but the people themselves are fascinating, the ...more
Chloe
You know those books that you think you know even before you read them. Those books that seem to strike those happy chords in your heart and call out to be your bosom buddies based on nothing more than an impression of their cover? That's how Krishnapur and I were for those months it sat on my shelf before I got around to it. Yet when I recently got around to actually cracking the spine on this Booker winner, I found that I had no clue what I was in store for.

Rather than a brutal retelling of co
...more
Shovelmonkey1
This book totally fooled me - I thought it was written ages ago in times gone by, days of yore etc. but nope, JG Farrell rattled it out in the 1970s. Very tricksy in a EM Forster representation of Brits in a colonial setting kind of way.

You might want to keep a cup of tea handy or perhaps a G & T as you will want something to dunk this book in - it can be a little dry . The petty tribulations of life in colonial India are really brought to the fore with delicate lay-dees overcome by heat/ bo
...more
DeB MaRtEnS
Having just read a very light British novel which brought to mind old movies and romantic novels of eras past, I Googled through lists of fiction where the setting is India. Well, by George, if I didn't find a different sort of novel altogether and I couldn't resist adding it to my "Read" bookshelf, even though that reading took place an era ago in itself.

"The Siege of Krishnapur" came to me via my mother-in-law, (until 1994), the daughter of Englishman who had begun his adulthood seeking his f
...more
Megan Baxter
Aug 19, 2011 Megan Baxter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yet another book that I liked but didn't love. There were times when I found it hard to go back to - there was never, for me, any drive to see what happened next.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Grace Tjan
In The Siege of Krishnapur, J.G. Farrell exposes colonialism as what it really was: a Victorian folly riddled with hypocrisy and exploitation, a fact that gradually became apparent during the Great Mutiny of 1857. The various characters holed up inside the Company’s Residency in Krishnapur each represent the different faces of the British colonialism: the Collector, a conscientious bureaucrat whose mission is to bring Western science and civilization (as exemplified by the Great Exhibition of 18 ...more
J.
J.G. Farrell's novel of the Indian Mutiny as seen from the inside; the story concerns the British trapped in a siege of their compound by their own former Indian Army members or sepoys. As the entitled representatives of the decades-old British Raj, their defense is secondary to the sheer stunned disbelief that the native population should ever even consider rising up.

The author weaves a few parallel threads here, making his little instant-dystopia the direct result of the injustice of autocracy
...more
Teresa
Aug 01, 2008 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book. So well-written that though you know it's a satire (which comes across without authorial comment), you still end up caring about the characters and their outcome. Also amazing in that much of it is funny (despite the subject matter) with a purpose -- hard to pull off, but he does.

Also well-done are the handling of its themes, such as what is civilization and who gets to decide it, and the notion of superstition within religion. The whole story is a metaphor really; but done so subtl
...more
Cphe
The second book in the "Empire Trilogy" and a very good read in it's own right. I'm really glad that I found this author and trilogy of novels. Not quite as fascinating or captivating as the very excellent "Troubles" but still an excellent story about a time in history that I knew very little about.
I really enjoy the overall style and delivery of this author, well worth the time and another gem from the New York Review of Books Classics list.
David
May 26, 2011 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Farrell was a genius. _Troubles_ had me thinking it, this book confirms it. Watching him juggle the horrifying and the hilarious for over 300 pages is amazing. This is a much more suspenseful, harrowing read than that equally great study of disintegration and the End of Empire. But taken together they're a wonder. (I took some time off after Troubles, knowing I wanted to be able to savor rather than gulp Farrell's other great works. I will, again, now take some time before finishing the trilogy. ...more
Quinn Slobodian
Nov 12, 2007 Quinn Slobodian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's Madame Bovary meets The Dawn of the Dead. The backdrop is a British outpost during the 1857 Indian Rebellion, or "Great Mutiny", of Indian soldiers against their British leaders which left tens of thousands dead in fighting and retribution and led to the formal annexation of India into the British Empire. The besieged outpost acts as the shopping mall in the zombie movie. With a set number of characters forced to interact with one another under steadily deteriorating living conditions, we w ...more
Paul
Feb 03, 2011 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent read and captures well the British in India in the nineteenth century with historical accuracy. There is great wit and humour in the book and some genuinely funny moments; however it is also a very brutal book with some grim scenarios. It captures well the British approach to empire in the characters of those caught in the siege and watching their gradual deterioration physically and mentally is fascinating. One of the characters has many antiques and artifacts from the Grea ...more
S.
Mar 20, 2010 S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A rich and interesting story, based on a real event. Despite the harrowing circumstances, the book isn't particularly gripping, perhaps because of the cool, sometimes comic writing style.
I liked the characters, especially Lucy and the dueling doctors, but there wasn't really much character development.
Despite the inferior defenses portrayed in the story, the prose is robust and vigorous, and each sentence is built like a tank.
Karen
J.G Farrell is a writer whose work I was completely oblivious to until I started on my project to read all the past winners of the Booker Prize.

The Siege of Krishnapur is part of a series of novels known as the Empire Trilogy (the two other titles are Troubles and The Singapore Grip), which deal with the political and human consequences of British colonial rule. The Siege of Krishnapur is based on the real experience of British subjects during the Indian rebellion of 1857 (what has become known
...more
Arukiyomi
Apr 12, 2010 Arukiyomi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
Back in early 1995, I was walking up a path in the Himalayan foothills with an Indian friend. I mentioned that I’d recently read Christopher Hibbert’s fantastic book The Great Mutiny: India 1857 and asked him what his perspective on the Indian Mutiny was. “Oh,” he replied coolly, “You mean the First War of Independence.” I’ve never forgotten that lesson in historical perspective. Farrell gives us another lesson with this remarkable novel.

Farrell’s written a great book here. It deals with the hum
...more
James
Set in India, 1857, during the Great Mutiny, this novel by J. G. Farrell is both a mighty work of historical fiction and a humane study of man. Farrell has the ability to create a world filled with flawed but often sympathetic characters and that sets this novel apart from typical historical fare. He also underlays the action both subtly and with irony depicting the contrast between the civilization of science and rationality, represented by the Great Exhibition of 1851 and its' Crystal Palace, ...more
Bettie☯
Aug 04, 2009 Bettie☯ rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Indian Lit Group here on GR
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Liz Nutting
This book wasn't what I was expecting. That can often be a good thing, but in this case, I was a tad disappointed.

Little by little, I've become fascinated by the history of the British occupation of India. It's one of those fascinations that creeps up on me, bit by bit--a book on mountain climbing peaks my interest in the topography of the Hundu Kush; a favorite mystery writer sets a story during the period of The Great Game, prompting me to finally read Kipling's Kim; trying to understand the
...more
Xainab
Apr 08, 2014 Xainab rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This cheeky little satire made me laugh out loud too many times to justify anything less than a four star rating. What raised it to five, in my humble opinion, was the sheer level of depth and ingenuity behind Farrell’s deceptively “silly” slapstick humour. Beneath the light-hearted surface entertainment (think drunk Colonels bounding through drawing room windows on horseback, and Lieutenants being whacked in the groin by flying bricks) lies a very intelligent critique of colonialism - a calcula ...more
Lisa
This is a very fine book indeed. It is - as the blurb says - both witty and serious, and it's a sort of 'boys' own adventure' too.
Set in 1857 in a remote British outpost of the empire in Hindustan, The Siege of Krishnapur is the story of the defence of the residency when the sepoys rise in revolt. Written from the vantage point of the besieged British, yet sympathetic to the justice of rebellion against their rule, it shows the British at both their best and worst.
Mr Hopkins, the Collector, is
...more
Trevor
Jun 05, 2008 Trevor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nyrb-classics, 1973
So far, this is my favorite of this year's Best of the Booker shortlist (I still have to read Midnight's Children and The Conservationist). It was a great story with a lot of subtle characters and themes. And the writing was excellent. I wish that Sacred Hunger could have been written in language this good and meticulous--it is poetic yet simple and does an excellent job setting the overall feel for a deep historical novel.

The novel itself, as the title says, is about a siege that happened in 18
...more
Allan
Oct 26, 2014 Allan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came to this book having absolutely loved 'Troubles', the first in the Empire Trilogy, released three years before this one. Initially, I found this to be a harder book to get into, but once I became engaged, it was an enjoyable and clever read.

Set in 1857, the story centres on the British community in Krishnapur, in Hindustan, the story beginning just before the Indian sepoys rise in revolt against the colonists. The Collector, Mr Hopkins, is the only one who sees impending danger, those arou
...more
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historical accuracy 3 39 Oct 22, 2014 08:00AM  
NYRB Classics: The Siege of Krishnapur, by J.G. Farrell 1 7 Oct 30, 2013 06:03PM  
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James Gordon Farrell, known as J.G. Farrell, was a Liverpool-born novelist of Irish descent. Farrell gained prominence for his historical fiction, most notably his Empire Trilogy (Troubles, The Siege of Krishnapur and The Singapore Grip), dealing with the political and human consequences of British colonial rule. The Siege of Krishnapur won the 1973 Booker Prize. On 19 May 2010 it was announced th ...more
More about J.G. Farrell...

Other Books in the Series

Empire Trilogy (4 books)
  • Troubles
  • The Singapore Grip
  • The Empire Trilogy: The Siege of Krishnapur, Troubles, and The Singapore Grip

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“Why do people insist on defending their ideas and opinions with such ferocity, as if defending honour itself? What could be easier to change than an idea?” 21 likes
“We look on past ages with condescension, as a mere preparation for us....but what if we are a mere after-glow of them?” 13 likes
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