Book LaunchLiving

Four and Twenty Blackbirds: The Insane Life of an English Smuggler in Bombay

Speaking Tiger Books  announced the publication of Four and Twenty Blackbirds: The Insane Life of an English Smuggler in Bombay by Godfrey Joseph Pereira, author of the critically acclaimed debut, Bloodline Bandra.

Set in the Partition era, this brilliant novel is based on the life of Charlie Strongbow, a schizophrenic Englishman who set up a smuggling den on Cross Island, off the Bombay coast. It includes fascinating anecdotes about the difficulties a newly formed government of India faced as well as the history of corruption in India.

Author Godfrey Joseph Pereira says, “This novel cuts into the medulla of brown-washed Indian history, refuting the glib historical lines that the British Empire was singularly accountable for corruption in India. The British opportunistically built on the corrupt foundations set up by the Rajas and the Maha Rajas. This began right from the start when Mughal Emperor Nuruddin Salim Jahangir, an alcoholic, opium addict and a corrupt leader was bribed by Sir Thomas Roe and sold India to the British. What Charlie Strongbow did in India will astonish and shock. “


Midnight, 15 August 1947. As India’s tryst with destiny reverberated across the world, Charlie Strongbow, born in Bombay, a renegade Englishman, mercenary, philosopher and schizophrenic, began his own bizarre journey. While nascent India floundered and struggled, Charlie, along with an English goon called Thommo, a devious accountant named Willie, a vicious Portuguese temptress, Dona Maria, and twenty British desperadoes, took possession of Cross Island near the Bombay Docks. Here they functioned in illegal harmony, bound by no rules and no principles, and set about building a black-market trade between Southampton and Bombay.

There was no stopping Charlie—but for memories of his own past filled with the misery of childhood abuse and guilt at having abandoned his daughters. As he drank himself to senselessness and let his inner demons take over, Detective Desai, a man Charlie had destroyed, raised an unrelenting war against Cross Island. But the severest blow of all would be struck by Dona Maria…

Based on true events, Four and Twenty Blackbirdsis an utterly gripping novel— the disturbing, astonishing story of an Englishman who won everything but lost his soul on a no man’s land in the Arabian Sea.

Price: INR 499 / Format: Paperback / Pages: 296

The book is now available on Speaking Tiger’s website.

Godfrey Joseph Pereira


Born in Pali Village, Bombay, Godfrey Joseph Pereira finished high school at Saint Andrew’s School. He graduated from college with a degree in English Literature and Philosophy. What followed was a career in journalism. He was Assistant Editor at Society Magazine, Principal Correspondent at Sunday Magazine and India Today, and worked as a war correspondent covering the First Gulf War from Israel. His first novel Bloodline Bandra was published by HarperCollins in 2014. The novel made the ‘Top Ten’ List at Oxford Bookstore. He has lived and worked as a journalist in New York City and New Jersey and now works and resides in West Palm Beach, Florida.


Speaking Tiger Books is an independent publishing company based in New Delhi. Founded in September 2014, the company publishes a diverse list comprising quality fiction and non-fiction from South Asia and the rest of the world. The list includes veterans and exciting new voices—among them, Nayantara Sahgal, Shanta Gokhale, Jerry Pinto, Wendy Doniger, Upamanyu Chatterjee, Mark Tully, Nandita Haksar, Harsh Mander, Ravish Kumar, Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, Salma, Easterine Kire, Ruskin Bond, Gulzar, Sujit Saraf, Madhavi Menon, Devaki Jain and Omair Ahmad. Its authors have won or been on the shortlists of almost all major literary prizes, including the Sahitya Akademi Award, the Crossword Book Award, the Hindu Literature Prize, the DSC Prize, the JCB Prize and the Tata Literature Live Awards.     

Speaking Tiger also publishes books for children and young adults under its Talking Cub imprint, with authors like Paro Anand, Andaleeb Wajid, Bulbul Sharma, Ranjit Lal, Subhadra Sengupta, Bijal Vachharajani, Ashok Rajagopalan and Shabnam Minwalla.

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