Quinn Slobodian's Reviews > The Siege of Krishnapur

The Siege of Krishnapur by J.G. Farrell
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's review
Nov 12, 2007

really liked it

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 watch how far appearances are preserved, when and how barriers of class, gender and race collapse and what the consequences are. The message, as with the zombie movies is a reversal: the proud are cowed, the pariahs dignified, old value systems rendered ridiculous in a state of near-starvation. Farrell plays it as straight parody in some moments, blasting a bust of Voltaire out of the cannon as last-ditch ammunition, but sneaks in an undercurrent of deep commentary on the myths of colonialism. It makes sense that it's written in 1973, after Third-worldism, after the idea of endless economic growth, after George Romero.
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