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When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo
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When We Were Birds

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When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo
Mar 15, 2022 | ISBN 9780385547260

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  • Mar 15, 2022 | ISBN 9780385547260

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Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2022 by Buzzfeed, Essence, Good Housekeeping, and more

“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

“[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

“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

“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

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