Monday, September 27, 2010

Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon, by Dhan Gopal Mukerji

This novel takes place in India, and chronicles how an unnamed boy raises his pigeon, Gay-Neck (an English rendering of his name, which could also be rendered "Iridescence-Throated"), so named for the distinct and bright colors at his throat. The boy was there at Gay-Neck's hatching, and describes how the pigeon was trained to fly, to navigate long distances to return home, and how to be fearless in the sky and avoid predators. The book paints a rich picture of various regions of India- the city, the jungle, and the Himalayas in particular.

As World War I begins to impact the British (and by extension, India) Gay-Neck's owner trains him to carry messages for the British in Europe. Gay-Neck ends up distinguishing himself quite well in battle, and has a well-earned recuperation at home with his wife afterward.

In order to tell the parts of the story that the boy could not have been witness to, the author occasionally permits Gay-Neck to tell his own story. However, the voice of the narrator in both cases is so calm that I didn't feel like I was truly impacted by the threats Gay-Neck (and his human counterparts) experienced in the war, which is unfortunate. So the last third of the book really failed to hold my interest. But until that point it held my attention very well!

Perhaps I'm still a bit enamored of Dencey, but I think she might have been a better winner.

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