About the Author:
Roger N. Buckley is Professor of history, and founding director of the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute at the University of Connecticut, USA. He was born in New York City to immigrant Caribbean parents. His scholarly books, articles and book chapters have been published in the United States, India, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. He has received numerous research awards, including from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Canada Council. Sepoy O’Connor completes a trilogy of historical fiction by him that explores the question of race and national identity as seen in the lives of three protagonists who served in the British colonial army in the West Indies, Ireland and India during the 19th century. Congo Jack, the first novel, appeared in 1997. The second, I, Hanuman (2003), retells the Ramayana in the context of the 1857 war and was also published by Writers Workshop, India.
About the Book:
In his author’s note, Buckley writes:
“The story of the Indian Revolution of 1857 continues to unfold, almost one hundred and sixty years after British rule in India was shaken to its imperial foundation. Sepoy O’Connor explores the much overlooked subject of European soldiers, especially Irishmen, who undoubtedly deserted to the rebel Indian side during the war. The seedbed for this was the Bengal Army which rebelled in 1857. On the eve of the Great Revolt, close to half of the Bengal Army was recruited with Irish soldiers. Irishmen were particularly vulnerable to the essential message of the Rebellion: freedom. Although a “white” colony, Ireland was still a British colony with a long history of armed resistance to the British rule. Irish nationalist parties, not unlike Indian parties, focused on self-determination and national independence. Hence a common ground of action and vision drew the two parties together. Readers of this novel will quickly discover that this narrative is essential to my argument. They will also discover that this novel is about a timeless and universal question: To whom should we give our loyalty? My hope is that readers of this novel will use it to further the lines of enquiry about the Great Revolt of 1857. Daniel O’Connor acted alone in the novel. But were there others like him in real life? Also, unlike Kim in Kipling’s novel of the same name, O’Connor chooses his Irish identity, rather than the identity of his British overlords. Lastly, Sepoy O’Connor constitutes a much needed, and thus far underexamined analysis, of the special relationship between two colonized nations: India and Ireland. It is my hope that this novel will encourage an interchange and interaction between the two.”