Tiny Sunbirds Far Away

by Christie Watson (Quercus) ISBN: 9781849163736

When the parents of twelve-year-old Blessing in Nigeria break up, she leaves electricity and running water behind to move back to her mother’s family in a rural compound village.
At first she finds it hard to adapt to the new simple lifestyle of her grandparents, but soon she becomes the apprentice midwife assisting her grandmother and everything starts to change. She has always been close to her older brother Ezikiel, but things deteriorate when her mother gets a relationship with one of the white oil company expats. Then disaster strikes.
Watson describes the story so beautifully, with so much understanding of the African life that this book is one of the best books I have read this year. I was moved and had to laugh and could relate to the characters.
Most of all I loved Blessing’s expressions: ‘All we could see was nothing. Mother was so angry her hair shrank. We were full of river fish, relaxing with swollen bodies in the heat. My eyes skimmed over the letters quickly until they became birds on the sky-page. Tiny sunbirds far away.’
This debut has been shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award.

Pauline Vijverberg

Posted on: 20th November 2011