Ayanna Lloyd Banwo

When We Were Birds

When We Were Birds

Winner of the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature and the Author's Club First Novel Award 2023


Darwin is a down-on-his-luck gravedigger, newly arrived in the city 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 keeper of the dead. Darwin and Yejide will find one another in the ancient cemetery at the heart of the city, where trouble is brewing and destiny awaits...

Embedded with timeless myth and magic, this hypnotic literary debut is a masterpiece about loss and renewal, darkness and light: a reckoning with a grief that runs back generations and a defiant, joyful affirmation of hope.