Singh, Chaitram. "The Flour Convoy."(Book review)

Author:Fuller, Sam

Singh, Chaitram. The Flour Convoy. Bloomington, ESI: I-Universe, 2011.

The Flour Convoy is a damning story about the plight of a country facing a government that has self-induced its own destruction through rampant and systemic corruption. In many ways, it is a recapitulation of the postcolonial experience of many Third World countries. Written by Chaitram Singh, Professor of Government at Berry College, the novel won a Guyana Prize for Literature in 2012 as the Best First Work of Fiction. The Guyana Prizes for Literature were founded by President Desmond Hoyte in 1987 to promote and honor the development of local literature.

Singh's novel follows the intertwining stories of Army Captain Alan Moore, an honest man trying to serve his country honorably, and Army Chief of Staff General Clive Agrippa, an egomaniac who takes advantage of his position whenever possible. Agrippa cheats on his wife; assaults his pregnant paramour, causing a hemorrhage which results in an abortion; orders the killing of his wife's suspected lover; and participates in so many corrupt and fraudulent practices and schemes that the perpetrator himself loses count. Moore, however, would never consider engaging in any of Agrippa's scandalous and unethical actions.

The equally corrupt political system capitalizes on Agrippa's misdeeds and elicits from him a pledge of allegiance to the political party in power and a commitment to use the army in the rigging of national elections to ensure continued political power. Against their personal preferences and ethical standards, Moore and his junior officers comply with orders and aid in the circumvention of the democratic process. The disposal of ballot boxes, however, quickly becomes problematic when some of them are hidden at Moore's home. Ironically, it is this rigging scheme that convinces Moore to abandon his homeland and flee into exile.

The Flour Convoy is unique in the corpus of post-colonial literature in that it makes the military the central focus of the novel. Other award-winning novels have dealt with authoritarian systems, but have treated the military in a tangential way. Chinua Achebe's Anthills in the Savannah, for example, addresses the plight of intellectuals in a military-run system; V.S. Naipaul's A Bend in the River shows how authoritarian mismle radiates from the...

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