Ayanna Lloyd Banwo

When We Were Birds
  • When We Were Birds

  • Brought to you by Penguin.

    Mesmerising, mythic and timeless - the most unmissable debut novel of 2022 - for fans of Arundhati Roy, Toni Morrison and Monique Roffey

    Darwin is a down-on-his-luck gravedigger, newly arrived in the Trinidadian city of Port Angeles to seek his fortune, young and beautiful and lost. Estranged from his mother and the Rastafari faith she taught him, 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, where the city meets the rainforest, Yejide's mother is dying. And she is leaving behind a legacy that now passes to Yejide: the power to talk to the dead. The women of Yejide's family are human but also not - descended from corbeau, the black birds that fly east at sunset, taking with them the souls of the dead.

    Darwin and Yejide both have something that the other needs. Their destinies are intertwined, and they will find one another in the sprawling, ancient cemetery at the heart of the island, where trouble is brewing...

    Rich with magic and wisdom, When We Were Birds is an exuberant, incantatory masterpiece that conjures and mesmerises on every line. Ayanna Lloyd Banwo weaves an unforgettable story of loss and renewal, darkness and light; a triumphant reckoning with a grief that runs back generations and a defiant, joyful affirmation of hope.


    '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' Jacob Ross, author of Black Rain Falling

    '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

    'Ayanna Lloyd Banwo is a rising literary star from a region which gave the world three Nobel Laureates in literature. She conjures old magic and yet she is a strong, new voice' Monique Roffey, author of The Mermaid of Black Conch

    © Ayanna Lloyd Banwo 2022 (P) Penguin Audio 2022

RELEASED 10/02/2022

Ayanna Lloyd Banwo is a writer from Trinidad & Tobago and a graduate of the University of East Anglia Creative Writing MA programme, and is now a postgraduate researcher in Creative-Critical Writing at UEA. She has contributed to the University of Leicester and her work has been published in The Caribbean Writer, Moko Magazine, Small Axe, Poui, PREE, Callaloo and Anomaly. When We Were Birds is her first novel; she is now working on her second.

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