Email this review


From long domicile in India where her husband was a fisheries research officer, Shirley Arora has written a story which transcends a mass of local lore to reveal the problems of underdeveloped nations generally, but it doesn't quite make the grade as fiction. Twelve-year-old Kumaran is proud of his father, Periatamby, head fisherman of the village, for supporting the newly-arrived Inspector of Fisheries. The others blame their poor catches on ""White Shirt,"" as they call the Inspector in derision, and suspect him of having the ""evil eye."" Kumaran's preoccupation with finding a left-handed chank, a rare shellfish reputed to bring good luck, recedes as he begins to study marine life scientifically with the Inspector. He even braves the scorn of his friends and neighbors to help ""White Shirt"" with his work. Just as the fishermen are preparing to go out after a possible big catch, the Inspector warns that a dangerous storm is approaching. They disregard his advice and sail away; the storm comes and he is instrumental, through his outside contacts, in effecting their rescue. Now they are ready to listen to his proposals for changing their methods of fishing, and Kumaran welcomes the opportunity offered by the Inspector to continue his schooling. He had wanted the left-handed chank to help his people; he will use knowledge instead. The development of the plot is almost as slow as the Inspector's progress with the fishermen. However, the book's weakness is also its strength: the details of local customs and local crustaceans which will put off many readers may fascinate others. Much merit as a primer for the Peace Corps, limited interest generally.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1966
Publisher: Follett