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  • Published: 1 March 2022
  • ISBN: 9780241502808
  • Imprint: Hamish Hamilton
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • RRP: $32.99

When We Were Birds




A gorgeously immersive, mesmerising and life-affirming literary debut - a love story and a ghost story set in 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, 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, Yejide's mother is dying. And she is leaving behind a legacy that now passes to Yejide: the power to talk to the departed. Darwin and Yejide's destinies are intertwined, and they will find one another in the ancient cemetery at the heart of the city, where trouble is brewing and destiny awaits...

Embedded with a timeless, mythic magic, and yet alive with a fresh, modern sensibility, this hypnotic literary debut is a masterpiece of rhythm, exuberance, heart, loss in cycle with renewal and darkness with light: a reckoning with a grief that runs back generations and a defiant, joyful affirmation of hope.

  • Published: 1 March 2022
  • ISBN: 9780241502808
  • Imprint: Hamish Hamilton
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • RRP: $32.99

Praise for When We Were Birds

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'

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'

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'

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'

'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 skilful, powerful voice that is simply unforgettable.'

Ronali Collings, author of 'All the Single Ladies'

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