Who’s the central character in the new novel? Is it really a crow? J.C. Dar Oakley, the main character and storyteller in the novel, is really a Crow. (In the book his species gets a capital letter, as do all the other species of animal and plant, just as Man used to be capitalized when it was the name for a species.) Where, and when, is the story set? Past or present? J.C. Both. The Crow Dar Oakley – the first Crow in all history to have a name of his own among his own kind – was born somewhere in westernmost Europe centuries before Caesar came to conquer Gaul. By the end of the story he is alive in the northeast United States at a time in the near future. How Dar Oakley got a name, how in various ages he came to learn to talk with certain People, and how he gained an ambiguous immortality – that’s the story he tells. So the book covers a vast stretch of time. How does it all get fitted into a novel? J.C. My first conception was a book of stories, a picaresque, one adventure after another as Dar Oakley enters into one human mythos after another: going into underworlds or realms of story to retrieve something or gain something or simply by mistake. It could have gone on forever. But the book evolved into a more unified thing than that: It is a tale told to us readers by an old man who takes in a sick Crow he nurses back to health, a Crow who tells the man of his long and impossible life, which the man (he has no name in the book) writes down, making the book we read. How did the idea of telling a story about Crows arise? J.C. Well, there’s my name first of all; the origin of the English name is “field of crows”. I have been intrigued by Crows all my conscious life: their raucous and disputatious communal life, their sleek blackness, their proven intelligence, the mythologies and fables about them (as omens, as too smart for their own good, as faithful compatriots and spouses). All of those aspects are in the book, and more too.
“John Crowley’s new epic ‘Ka’ is a late masterpiece in a stellar fantasy career” – Los Angeles Times