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Bapsi Sidhwa: The Crow Eaters

The Parsi community is quite small but influential for its relative size. This novel is a very witty and well written story about one Parsi family. At the beginning of the story, Faredoon – Freddy to everyone – Junglewalla, recently married to Putli, moves his family to Lahore. His family consists of Putli, Freddy and his mother-in-law. In part, this novel may seem like one long mother-in-law joke, as Freddy and his mother-in-law, Jerbanoo, clearly do not get along. He plots to get rid of her (and nearly succeeds) in various ways and when he does not and is resigned to putting up with her, there is a running and very funny battle between them.

It’s not all about Freddy and Jerbanoo. Freddy makes his way in Lahore and becomes a successful businessman, starting with an insurance fraud and moving on up. He has seven children and we follow their activities, particularly Billy, who becomes one of the richest (but also one of the stingiest) men in India. Sidhwa is clearly attached to her community but realistic enough to paint their foibles. But, when it comes down to it, it is the uproarious struggle between Freddy and his mother-in-law that makes this book so enjoyable.

Publishing history

First published 1978 by Ilmi Press