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When We Were Birds (Hardback)Ayanna Lloyd Banwo (author)
Evocatively exploring contemporary life through the labyrinth of myth and the otherworldly, this masterfully crafted Trinidad-set debut about a handsome young gravedigger and a girl with the gift of speaking to the dead announces a spell-binding new voice in fiction.
Mesmerising, mythic and timeless - the most unmissable debut novel of 2022 - for fans of Arundhati Roy, Toni Morrison and Monique Roffey
Discover a love story and a ghost story set in the lush landscape and thriving backstreets of modern-day Trinidad...
Darwin is a down-on-his-luck gravedigger, newly arrived in the city of Port Angeles to seek his fortune, young and beautiful and lost. Estranged from his mother and the Rastafari faith she taught him, he is convinced that the father he never met may be waiting for him somewhere amid these bustling streets.
Meanwhile in an old house on a hill, where the city meets the rainforest, Yejide's mother is dying. And she is leaving behind a legacy that now passes to Yejide: the power to talk to the dead. The women of Yejide's family are human but also not - descended from corbeau, the black birds that fly east at sunset, taking with them the souls of the dead.
Darwin and Yejide both have something that the other needs. Their destinies are intertwined, and they will find one another in the sprawling, ancient cemetery at the heart of Port Angeles, where trouble is brewing...
Rich with magic and wisdom, When We Were Birds is an exuberant, incantatory masterpiece that conjures and mesmerises on every line. Ayanna Lloyd Banwo weaves an unforgettable story of loss and renewal, darkness and light; a triumphant reckoning with a grief that runs back generations and a defiant, joyful affirmation of hope.
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Number of pages: 288
Weight: 407 g
Dimensions: 222 x 144 x 28 mm
'Exceptional. The originality of its premise, the power and beauty of its prose, the depth of its explorations of what it means to love and be loved... When We Were Birds is about the silver cord of memory and blood and history that binds a family of women even after death. I loved this book' - Jacob Ross, author of Black Rain Falling
'Combining the richness of myth with razor-sharp observation of contemporary life, When We Were Birds marks the emergence of a distinctive and powerful voice' - Pat Barker, author of The Silence of the Girls
'Ayanna Lloyd Banwo is a rising literary star from a region which gave the world three Nobel Laureates in literature. She comes from a lineage of high Caribbean Lit and it shows. This is an impressive debut about love, family, ancestry, the dead and the living. Read this book for its magic and realism too, for its deft weaving together of lives... Ayanna Lloyd Banwo conjures old magic and yet she is a strong, new voice' - Monique Roffey, author of The Mermaid of Black Conch
'Magical, enchanting, majestic... Infused with the lush and terrible beauty of the Trinidadian landscape, When We Were Birds weaves dreams and apparitions, religion and myth, into a story of love in its many manifestations' - Barbara Jenkins, author of De Rightest Place
'Heart-warming and heart-breaking, fantastical and familiar, with characters that burrow their way into your heart and mind with their tragedies and triumphs, When We Were Birds is the kind of story that makes you want to spread your arms open wide, embrace the sky, and take flight in your own little way. It is glorious' - Robert Jones Jr, author of The Prophets
'An eloquent and breathtaking novel from an irresistible new voice. The words are there on the page and then whoop! Suddenly they are right in the centre of your heart. Ayanna Lloyd Banwo writes on the wings of love and death' - Tessa McWatt, author of The Snow Line
'A shining new light on the literary scene. When We Were Birds is a novel reminiscent of old folklore tales, woven with myths, ghosts and love, and told with a powerful voice that is simply unforgettable' - Ronali Collings, author of All the Single Ladies
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“An exquisite and enchanting debut”
Set in an imagined version of Trinidad, When We Were Birds is a quietly dazzling novel suffused with beauty and horror.
Life and death are the key themes of the novel, and are the things that the central... More
“A wonderful piece of modern day magical realism”
This is a beautiful piece of writing. An exemplary piece of modern day magical realism.
Darwin is a Rastafarian. His religion forbids him from working with the dead, but his dwindling bank account and lack of work... More
“When We Were Birds”
I struggled to get into this book and I think the main reason was the language of the Island and it was right of the author to write this way as after getting used to it, it enhanced the story. Yejide lives a life... More
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