Many Sparrows

Although I am unsure what connections the author is attempting to draw, it is clear that The Avian Gospels is going to have heavy religious themes. It’s appearance is meant to mimic the Bible, and God has been mentioned several times throughout the first few chapters of the book. In attempting to draw some preliminary connections, I was reminded of one of my favorite verses, found in Luke. Christ is telling the people to not fear those who kill because after that there isn’t anything they can do to you. It is better to fear someone who has the ability to cast you in to hell. However, the chapter goes on to say that “Are not five sparrows killed for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7). This verse uses an example of a multitude of birds to say that humans are of more value to God. Just a few verses down, something else caught my eye. “Now when they bring you unto the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” (Luke 12:11-12). The use of the word “magistrate” reminds me of the Judge. I’m interested to see if these connections play out, and if so, what Novy wishes us to gain from them.

I’m also reminded of the book, Waiting for the Barbarians by JM Coetzee. It’s another dystopian novel that is centered around a magistrate of a small community. The book is about the tension between the people of the community and that “barbarians”, a group of nomadic people that are seen as horrible and dangerous. The magistrate befriends a barbarian women, and it soon becomes clear that the barbarians may not be the barbaric ones after all. The frequent mention of Gypsies that we’ve seen in The Avian Gospels so far, and the distaste with which they are described seems reminiscent of Waiting for the Barbarians. Whether or not the two books draw on the same themes of prejudice and acceptance remains to be seen.

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