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Birds Without Wings
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About the Author

Louis de Bernieres's first three novels are The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts (Commonwealth Writers Prize, Best First Book Eurasia Region, 1991), Se-or Vivo and the Coca Lord (Commonwealth Writers Prize, Best Book Eurasia Region, 1992), and The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman. The author was selected by Granta as one of the twenty Best of Young British Novelists in 1993. Corelli's Mandolin won the Commonwealth Writers Prize, Best Book, in 1995. His last book was Red Dog, published in 2001.

Reviews

In the ten years since his international best seller Corelli's Mandolin, English novelist de Berni?res has truly steeped himself in the culture and history of southwestern Turkey. The result is an absorbing, polyvocal epic centered on a charming coastal Anatolian village where religious and ethnic harmony is shattered by World War I and the subsequent internecine slaughter during which Ottomans become Turks; Turkish-speaking Greek Orthodox Christians become forced exiles, replaced by Greek-speaking Muslims from Crete; and Armenians become victims. This novel emphasizes the brutalities and stupidities of modern warfare (notably at the battle of Gallipoli) even more emphatically than de Berni?res's magic realist debut, The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts. About a dozen characters tell their quasi-picaresque stories in short chapters interpolated by an amusing, highly anecdotal sketch of the brilliant career of Mustapha Kemal, later called Atat?rk, founder of the modern Turkish nation, who, in abolishing the fez "becomes the only dictator in the history of the world with a profound grasp of the semiotics of headwear." Vivid characterization, wry humor, believable bawdiness, pathos, and trenchant observations of the perils of empire and nation building make this a strongly recommended selection for all historical fiction collections. Mark Andr? Singer, Mechanics' Inst. Lib., San Francisco Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

It's been nearly a decade since Captain Corelli's Mandolin became a word-of-mouth bestseller (and then a major feature film), and devotees will eagerly dig into de Bernieres' sweeping historical follow-up. This time the setting is the small Anatolian town of Eskibah?e, in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire. The large cast of characters of intermixed Turkish, Greek and Armenian descent includes breathtakingly lovely Philothei, a Christian girl, and her beloved Ibrahim, the childhood friend and Muslim to whom she is betrothed. The narrative immediately sets up Philothei's death and Ibrahim's madness as the focal tragedy caused by the sweep of history-but this is a bit of a red herring. Various first-person voices alternate in brief chapters with an authorial perspective that details the interactions of the town's residents as the region is torn apart by war; a parallel set of chapters follows the life of Kemal Ataterk, who established Turkey as a modern, secular country. The necessary historical information can be tedious, and stilted prose renders some key characters (like Philothei) one-dimensional. But when de Bernieres relaxes his grip on the grand sweep of history-as he does with the lively and affecting anecdotes involving the Muslim landlord Rustem Bey and his wife and mistress-the results resonate with the very personal consequences that large-scale change can effect. Though some readers may balk at the novel's sheer heft, the reward is an effective and moving portrayal of a way of life-and lives-that might, if not for Bernieres's careful exposition and imagination, be lost to memory forever. Agent, Lavinia Trevor. (Aug.) Forecast: Corelli had the advantage of WWII, a prominent love story and a movie tie-in; this book's period and setting are less familiar. Still, readers who enjoyed Corelli will be likely to give it a chance. 10-city author tour. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"Astonishing, and compulsively readable." -- Los Angeles Times Book Review"Fascinating, evocative. . . . Rich and compelling. . . . A thrilling ride through a whirlwind of history. . . . De Berni?res has reached heights that few modern novelists ever attempt." --The Washington Post"Engrossing. . . . The prose is gorgeous. . . . Everyone in this cast of characters is someone memorable, and their lives and fates intertwine to make a marvelously engaging story of a village." --Chicago Tribune"Marvelous. . . . Breathtaking. . . . Heartbreaking yet resplendent. . . . De Bernieres masterfully explores the terrible price of love, politics and war. . . . [He is] a magnificent storyteller." --The Miami Herald"A masterpiece. . . . Display[s] de Bernieres' remarkable literary voice: erudite, compelling, witty." --USA Today"An absorbing epic. . . . De Berni?res [is] adept at juxtaposing brutality with episodes of high comedy or romance." --The New York Times Book Review"A sweeping account of the rise of modern Turkey and the last days of the Ottoman Empire. In an intensely personal way, [de Berni?res] shows how these historic changes affected the inhabitants of Eskibahce . . . and in a more global way . . . how misplaced imperial aspirations and gratuitous war can devastate ordinary people." --Newsday"Beguiling. . . . Startlingly unique. . . . De Bernieres is so inventive--celebratory but never sentimental." --Newsweek"A literary triumph. . . . Louis de Bernieres [may be] the next Leo Tolstoy." --Seattle Post-Intelligencer"Lovely. . . . Epic in scope and with a clear message: Peace is a more livable climate than war, and the political aspirations of power mongers waste the lives of the humble populace." --Oregonian"The most eagerly awaited novel of the year . . . . A mesmerizing patchwork of horror, humor and humanity." --Independent (UK)"De Bernieres is at his finest when he allows us to experience the hardships and horrors through the lives of the villagers. He writes movingly of the battle of Gallipoli from the Turkish point of view, and the brutal, dehumanizing conditions of trench warfare." --The Seattle Times"Fine-grained prose that moves with the measured grace of a 19th century novel." --San Francisco Chronicle"A rich, mottled chorus, an amalgam of subplots that weave and complement each other in such a way that the town itself might be better called the central character. . . . Do read it before you die. It would be a terrible thing to have missed a work of such importance, beauty and compassion." --The Globe and Mail"An absorbing read about a remote but captivating time. The Ottoman world's break-up is a rich, poignant story, and Mr. de Berni?res is a good storyteller." --The Economist"De Bernieres has a gift for irony, a sure hand for fast-moving plots . . . a talent for bringing the written word to life, and a delicious sense of the absurd." --Washington Times "Rich prose and vivid descriptions. . . . De Bernieres writes powerfully of the savagery of war." --Pittsburg Tribune-Review"A magnificent, poetic, colossal novel, filled with wry, poignant stories. . . . Louis de Bernieres' rapaciously sensuous writing makes the pages of this book crackle with heat and resonate with birdsong. . . . Birds Without Wings is superbly written, gathering people and their hearts and souls and all their baggage of loss and hope together in one place and giving a point to life. It is, in every sense, a sublime book." --The Irish Times"A vast book, told in de Bernieres' signature style . . . . We feel everything through a host of vivid, moving, and often amusing characters." --San Jose Mercury News "Unites the chimerical poetry of Gabriel Garcia Marquez with the fine-grained domesticity of Trollope. . . . de Bernieres . . . can move seamlessly from humor to poignancy and from easy charm to a searing anger." --Financial Times"Enchanting. . . . At once intimate and sweeping. . . . At a time when the hypocrisy of modern invasions and of simplistic caricatures of other faiths circulates all too easily, this book offers a timely message to us all." --The Sydney Morning Herald"Bears de Bernieres' literary hallmarks--vast emotional breadth, dazzling characterization, [and] rich historical detail . . . swerving between languid sensuality and horror, humor and choking despair." --Scotland on Sunday"Rendered in greater detail and with greater emotional impact than the prize-winning author has accomplished in any of his previous work." --Richmond Times-Dispatch"Operatic. . . . Splendid, lyrical. . . . De Bernieres is a writer who can make you want to turn the page to find out what happens. . . . He has a blockbuster audacity in bringing together elements that work." --The Age
"Stunning. . . . Haunting. . . . Both exotically remote and tragically relevant. . . . So much is remarkable about this novel, from the heft of its history to the power of its legends. . . . A deeply rewarding work." --The Anchorage Press"Armies march, populations flee, and mountains of corpses lie rotting, the landscapes of horror brought fully to our imaginations in terms so visceral we could weep. . . . One of the most profound and moving books you're likely to read." --The New Zealand Herald

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