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A view of contemporary India moves from the feudal state of Bihar, to the territories of tribes that use bows and arrows, to the slums of Calcutta
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Norman Lewis's early childhood, recalled in Jackdaw Cake, was spent partly with his Welsh spiritualist parents in Enfield, North London, and partly with his eccentric aunts in Wales. Forgoing a place at university for lack of funds, he used the income from photography to finance travels to Spain, Italy and the Balkans, before being approached by the Colonial Office to spy for them with his camera in Yemen. It was from his service in the Intelligence Corps during the Second World War that his masterpiece, Naples '44, emerged. Norman Lewis wrote thirteen novels and thirteen works of non-fiction, but he regarded his life's major achievement to be the reaction to an article written by him entitled 'Genocide in Brazil , published in the Sunday Times in 1968. This led to a change in the Brazilian law relating to the treatment of Indians, and to the formation of Survival International.From Kirkus Reviews:
An intriguing if cursory chronicle of a visit among the caste- free tribes of central India--some of whom still hunt with bows and arrows and sacrifice animals to their earth goddess--by the well- traveled British author of numerous histories (The Missionaries, 1988, etc.) and novels (Within the Labyrinth, 1986, etc.). Lewis's fascination with primitive cultures threatened by ``progress'' began while he was reporting on native civilizations in Indochina and Burma. Here, his interest leads him to India's ancient tribal colonies, whose integrity has been preserved since before the Aryan invasion and whose population now equals seven percent of the nation's total. Returning to India with a certain wariness (his first visit, in 1950, left him with highly unpleasant memories), Lewis drifts through parts of the violence-torn country that few tourists ever see--from shabby Bihar in northwestern India, where recent caste wars have dominated the news, through poverty-ridden Calcutta, to the mountains of Orissa, home of the largest tribal population in the world. Led by a young, romantic Brahmin guide, Lewis infiltrates mountain communities whose ancestry may be traceable to the Aborigines of Australia or to prehistoric Asia. Dispensing candies to polite villagers, he contrasts the preening, self-assured behavior of the tribal females, who are sold to their husbands and are therefore a valuable family asset, to the general invisibility of modern India's downtrodden Hindi women, who continue to suffer as child brides, victims of dowry murders, and, in some areas, from ritual suicide. But Lewis's eye for captivating eccentricity--Koya men's preference for older, dominant wives; Bonda women's traditional nakedness, except for elaborate jewelry, and the men's casual willingness to murder whoever crosses them; and the Kondhs' belief in encouraging promiscuity among their adolescents--makes the brevity of his observations all the more frustrating. An absorbing introduction. One wishes for more. (Illustrations--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description Jonathan Cape Ltd, London, U.K., 1991. Cloth. Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. First Edition. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Hardback. Seller Inventory # 017947
Book Description Random House of Canada, Limited, 1998. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0224027778