Where The Crawdads Sing
Kya (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Tate Walker (Taylor John Smith) in Columbia Pictures’ WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING.

I must preface that if you have not read the cult novel Where The Crawdads Sing nor watched the new film adaption starring Daisy Edgar-Jones, then this article contains some very big spoilers.

For the unacquainted, the novel written by Delia Owens follows the story of Kya Clark in a mid-century North Carolina. She was abandoned as a child and forced to survive on her own in the swamplands, earning the name ‘Marsh Girl’ from town locals. She is accused of murdering her ex-partner Chase, who cheated and raped her just before his death.

The release of the film produced by Reese Witherspoon has reignited debate online over the killing of an alleged animal poacher in Zambia 20 years ago. It was first documented in a famous New York Times article by Jeffrey Goldberg where he recalls the couple living in the country as American conservationists ruthlessly fighting against the killing of native animals.

In an ABC documentary titled Deadly Game: The Mark and Delia Owens Story, footage reveals an unidentified person – allegedly a poacher – who was executed in the grasslands. According to Goldberg’s article, a cameraman claimed it was Owens’ step son Christopher who fired the gun.

Where The Crawdads Sing controversy Delia Owens
Mark and Delia Owens in the North Luangwa National Park in Zambia. 9/88 (Photo by William Campbell/Corbis via Getty Images)

After the episode aired around the world, Zambian police sparked an investigation with the Owens family persons of interest. They quickly returned to United States. According to a report from The Atlantic by the same author this week, the family are still wanted for questioning over the mysterious murder. And the two cases, the fact and fiction tales, draw eery parallels. Including who murdered Chase in the novel.

Lawyers for the family maintain they had no involvement in the murder. Following the film’s release this month, screenwriter Lucy Alibar was asked to address the controversy of which she had no knowledge of. It prompted the cancellation of press interviews globally with Edgar-Jones, Witherspoon and Owens.

In a 2019 interview, Delia denied involvement again, saying, “It’s painful to have that come up, but it’s what Kya had to deal with – name calling.”