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When We Were Birds Kindle Edition
Mesmerising, mythic and timeless, the most unmissable debut novel of 2022 - for fans of Arundhati Roy, Toni Morrison and Monique Roffey
Recommended Read for 2022 in the Observer, New Statesman, Irish Times, Buzzfeed, Good Housekeeping, The Daily Nerd, Essence and more
'BELIEVE THE HYPE' Stella, Sunday Telegraph
'A searing symphony of magic and loss, love and hope... This book just might heal you' Marlon James
'It's a knockout, and Ayanna Lloyd Banwo is a star. I want to read everything she writes' Niven Govinden
Darwin is a down-on-his-luck gravedigger, newly arrived in the Trinidadian 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 the island, where trouble is brewing...
Rich with magic and wisdom, When We Were Birds is an exuberant 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.
'Exceptional' Jacob Ross
'Exquisite' Avni Doshi
'When We Were Birds marks the emergence of a distinctive and powerful voice' Pat Barker, author of The Silence of the Girls
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Mythic and captivating... Banwo roots the reader in [Trinidad's] traditions and rituals, in the sights and sounds and colors and smells of fruit vendors, fish vendors, street preachers and schoolchildren. In the glorious matriarchy by which lineage is upheld. The result is a depiction of ordinary life that's full and breathtaking.--New York Times Book Review
[A] masterly debut novel. It announces an important new voice in fiction, at once grounded and mythic in its scope and carried by an incantatory prose style that recalls Arundhati Roy. . . Lloyd Banwo's literary gift lies in her capacity to transfigure [grief] - to conjure a cosmic landscape where the living coexist among the dead.--The Observer (Top 10 Debut Novel of 2022)
A thoroughly original and emotionally rich examination of love, grief and inheritance... When We Were Birds is full of life . . .The scenes it hosts are packed with drama, colour and tension, particularly in her gripping finale . . Her novel takes flight and soars.--The Economist
When We Were Birds is an ode to the idea that broken traditions can lead to beautiful new beginnings.--TimeMagazine
[A] spellbinding novel . . The poetic prose in Ayanna Lloyd Banwo's debut novel captivates from the start . . .When We Were Birds is a unique love story whose magical setting in Trinidad takes center stage.--Real Simple
Lloyd Banwo conjures an aching sexual energy, places the lovers in deliciously paced jeopardy and takes the tale to an agreeably thundery climax . . .Lloyd Banwo has written a love letter for Trinidad, to remind all of us that yes, love is still very, very nice indeed.--The Guardian
This is one even people who don't usually read fantasy or magical realism will like. It will take you on a journey exploring family dynamics, magic, urban living, Caribbean mythologies, and characters who you root for.--BookRiot
[Banwo's] craft is both ceremonial and immediate in this way, working on you like an ancient spell to which you know the words, and the ancient sounds beneath their language. [When We Were Birds] is both a love story and a genealogy of dispossession, a death diary folded into the pages of a magically real Trinidad. --Caribbean Beat
Mysterious, atmospheric and richly painted.--Good Housekeeping
[A] gorgeous debut novel.--Nylon
[A] moving and mythic debut...Banwo's stunning lyricism offers a window into her characters as well as a view of the landscape...The otherworldly setting instantly pulls the reader in. This remarkable debut should not be missed. --Publishers Weekly *Starred Review*
Ayanna Lloyd Banwo's When We Were Birds is crafted from the very essence of memory, the long memory, which can only be drawn from the mind and translated into the written word by someone with Banwo's lyrical mastery. Heartwarming and heartbreaking, fantastical and familiar, with characters that burrow their way into your heart and mind with their tragedies and triumphs, When We Were Birds more than sings, more than beams. It 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., New York Times bestselling author of The Prophets
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, Booker Prize-winning author of Women of Troy
Uplifting, engaging, expansive: this was just the book I needed. In a voice infused with the rhythms of Trinidad and Tobago, Banwo has crafted the perfect love story, one that moves with deftness between the furies of urban poverty and the gentle infinities of the afterlife. The hard-won peace and redemptive love in this story are real, and something we need more of in the world.--Kawai Strong Washburn, author of Sharks in the Time of Saviors
With an imaginative world and lush writing, this romantic fantasy is a must read. --Apartment Therapy
[A] wonderfully original debut. . . Banwo has created a unique world expansive enough to contain a ghost story, a love story, a mysterious mythology, and a thoughtful examination of how family bonds keep us firmly rooted to our pasts. [She] makes you care deeply about the outcome and deftly weaves the realistic and the fantastic into a strange and compelling tapestry. With skill and heart, she has created a world readers will happily return to.--Kirkus Reviews
Ayanna Lloyd Banwo's voice is haunting, and When We Were Birds is a novel of exquisite detail that opens up the liminal space between folklore and the world we inhabit.--Avni Doshi, author of Burnt Sugar
Ayanna Lloyd Banwo 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 from a city with a huge cemetery at its centre, where the dead lie restless and sometimes loosen from their graves. Ayanna Lloyd Banwo conjours old magic and yet she is a strong, new voice.--Monique Roffey, author of The Mermaid of Black Conch
I love this book: 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 bind a family of women even after death. An exceptional novel that delivers on its promise.--Jacob Ross, author of The Bone Readers
A love story, a ghost story and a coming-of-age story, all masterfully woven into one. I loved it.--Claire Adam, author of The Golden Child--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
- ASIN : B094MGTN3M
- Publisher : Penguin (10 February 2022)
- Language : English
- File size : 5199 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 270 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 0241502799
- Best Sellers Rank: 37,037 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from other countries
Darwin, born and raised a Rastafarian wakes up one day and cuts off his locks. He later goes on to work as a grave digger because this was the only job he could get. Anything to do with the dead is forbidden by his religion and his mother.
Yejide (coincidentally a Yoruba name meaning the mother has come again) belongs to a family which has strong connections to their dead ancestors.
Both Yejide and Darwin come together when Yejide goes to Fidelis to bury her mother, they are drawn together by a force neither can explain. They are both healed by the power of love.
It’s not that straightforward though. A lot happens along the way. There is crime and suspense. Loss, pain, denial, heartbreak and pain.
I would say this is a mixed genre novel, it’s contemporary with a bit of myth and magic.
The character development is excellent, the writing stlye beautiful
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 22 February 2022