In the Spring of 1857, with India on the brink of a violent and bloody mutiny, Krishnapur is a remote town on the vast North Indian plain. For the British there, life is orderly and genteel.
Then the sepoys at the nearest military cantonment rise in revolt and the British community retreats with shock into the Residency. They prepare to fight for their lives with what weapons they can muster. As food and ammunition grow short, the Residency, its defences battered by shot and shell and eroded by the rains, becomes ever more vulnerable. The Siege of Krishnapur is a modern classic of narrative excitement that also digs deep to explore some fundamental questions of civilisation and life.
©1974 The Estate of J.G. Farrell (P)2010 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
"Sam Dastor's inspired delivery of the 1973 Booker Prize-winning novel, a brilliant black comedy set during the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857, is available as a download only. Dastor, who was born in India, delivers a brisk, uncomplicated Indian accent for the few actual natives in this book. His great triumph, however, lies in his general narration, which expresses the book's terrific irony at the contrast between British propriety and the chaotic mess these people find themselves in. When the voices of individual characters pipe up, they are uniquely their own. Among them are the Magistrate, whose clipped tones most certainly do "not invite debate," and the Padre, whose voice is perfectly balanced between donnishness and clerical sing-song." (Washington Post Book World)
"fabric artist and quilter"
I had read Siege of K many years ago. I think it might have been a set book at school. What I didn't know then was tat it was a black comedy - had I, I might have enjoyed it more.
Readng or rather listening to it as an adult I enjoyed the humour absurd as it was but it highlighted the pathos, dispair and horror of the Indian mutiny.
I enjoyed S of K but the narration did leave a little to be desired. The characters were not being absurd all the time but that's how it came across and unfortunately the female characters were made to sound like the ugly sister in pantomime the whole way thru.
I do recommend the book but only to those that know a bit of the history and want to know what it might have been like at the siege at Cornpore or Lucknow.
The reader brought the book to life with his mastery of different voices and accents. He was able to suggest the characters' moods, changes of outlook, even their weariness and weakness as the siege proceeds. Brilliant work!
One of a trilogy linked by their general theme of the decline of the British Empire, Krishnapur is a wonderfully humane chronicle of a group of Victorian trapped in their cultural assumptions, tested by extreme circumstances. Some grow, some become more hardened in their ways of thinking, some give way. The result is an investigation of basic attitudes toward social organization, human interaction and morality - told with great humor and satire that is never misanthropic. Fascinating.
As a novel, I thought The Siege of Krishnapur was OK, but not as good as I had expected. It echoes works such as A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul or The Plague by Albert Camus, but doesn't quite live up to their standards.
But my main problem was with the narration, and in this respect I find myself in complete disagreement with the Washington Post review cited on the product page. For some reason, Dastor has chosen to narrate all of the characters as caricatures; as far as I could tell, there is nothing in the text itself that dictates this, and even if there were, surely there are subtler ways of conveying irony than this sort of farcical reading. Yes, there are comical characters in the book, but not all of them. Not all the time. The result is that the listener cannot take any of the characters' actions or words seriously, and if the author had any intention of including a selfless act, a tragic moment or an insightful thought in his book, these are lost.
So, to sum up: not a bad book, not a terrible audiobook; it might be to some people's liking, but in my opinion there are much better audiobooks you can listen to.
Parts of this novel were very, very slow. It wasn't the reader - the reading was quite good. I never could decide whether the characters were meant to be taken seriously or if they were meant to be caricatures. Certainly, it does portray a stereotype of the British in India very different from the romantic. Whether it was meant to be a sardonic condemnation of the British Raj or a serious attempt at character analysis in crisis, it failed. Maybe I missed something. I kept wanting to like it, but never quite managed the trick. Indeed, it gave me a craving for Kipling.
Another narrator. This one is terrible at women and exaggerates his men so much that they sound like caricatures.
Not this audiobook. The story sounded like it might be interesting but I just couldn't see listening to another 12 hours to find out.
Simon Vance, Martin Jarvis, Frederick Davidson, etc.
No, equally good.
Armageddon by Leon Uris
When the Collector decided the Residency should be fortified and everyone else thought he was paranoid.
The Collector, because of his foresight and calmness in the face of disaster.
The recent tragic events in Libya and failure of a distracted, incompetent government are similar.
"As much use in a fight as the Covent Garden chorus"
A wonderful book! Here’s another one that I read in the mid 1980’s whilst at University under the banner of post-Colonial fiction. My contention then, which is completely borne out by this re-reading is that it is primarily a work of post-modern irony. It benefits from the fact that it is beautifully written, well researched, immaculately delivered and intentionally hilarious from start to well constructed finish. One of those books that I’ll come back to and one which I never hesitate to recommend. Linked with Troubles, which I also read all those years ago, it is one of the rare occasions where the only works that I have read of an author have left me wanting more - something that can never be, since I’ve read that The Singapore Grip is overlong and in need of editing and that the earlier works in this short career are juvenilia. Still, one of the great reads - a pleasure from start to finish. Benefits from superb and knowledgeable performance from the narrator.
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