Judy Cooke (review date 19 September 1980)
SOURCE: Cooke, Judy. “Roast Cat.” New Statesman 100, no. 2583 (19 September 1980): 23.
[In the following excerpt, Cooke praises The Crow Eaters as an “excellent” and enjoyable novel.]
Bapsi Sidhwa's The Crow Eaters is an excellent novel, her first, a book about India which one can wholeheartedly enjoy rather than respectfully admire. The author is a born storyteller, an affectionate, shrewd observer of the Parsi family whose history is here related. She organises her material well and writes with authority and flair.
‘Faredoon Junglewalla, Freddy for short, was a strikingly handsome, dulcet-voiced adventurer …’ It is an opening paragraph to whet the reader's appetite and the subject is not one to disappoint his public. Freddy is first seen trundling towards Lahore in a bullock cart with his wife Putli, his baby daughter and his dreadful mother-in-law. He has some trouble with the rooster sharing the ride, a perverse bird who likes to cling to our hero's buttocks at the climax of love-making ‘like an experienced rodeo rider’. In a matter of days Freddy finds an excuse for sacrificing this favourite and is soon eating chicken curry. That is the measure of the man. It is easy to credit his meteoric rise to fortune (aided by arson and insurance fraud); it is inevitable that his children are lesser figures, that Yazdi should renounce his inheritance in disgust, that Billy should become one of the richest misers in the continent. A Parsi Forsyte Saga? Who knows? Mrs Sidhwa's fiction may develop in a number of directions but one thing is certain, she will be read.