FLIGHT OF WHITE CROWS by John Berry

FLIGHT OF WHITE CROWS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is a collection of several curious stories and a long poetic-philosophical epilogue about India by the writer whose earlier (1959) Krishna Fluting was a Macmillan Fiction Award winner and a Book-of-the-Month Club selection. Mr. Berry is not like Kipling, Forster, or anyone else, and his sense of humor and his observations on the life there are quite European (although Berry is American born). Europeans of all nationalities are at Bharat University (where Berry has taught)- the locale of most of these stories. Yet there is also a profound, pervading sense of Indian mysticism, and of the strangeness of India itself, in these tales. Berry lives with a primitive tribe, learns their myths, witnesses a marriage ceremony, and is very nearly absorbed into their life. Again, swarms of hideous beggars assault the University and one of the Europeans, trying to deal with them rationally, becomes for a time one of them. A gentle European madman, whose belief in love is almost Indian in its mysticism, nearly disrupts the European colony. For not only India, with its bewildering complexity of religions, smells, animal life, social castes, in under observation; the non-Indians at the University are also as complex a mixture of backgrounds and beliefs and their effects on each other are odd and astonishing. Beneath it all, cool and calm, runs the Indian sense of a divine stillness. There are also, three eerie- non-Indian stories, polished and disturbing, and the last long philosophical section is a European's to think purely as an Indian, curious and moving. An extraordinarily varied book.

Publisher: Macmillan