January 28, 2021

We Are All Birds of Uganda

We Are All Birds of Uganda

by Hafsa Zayyan

Published: January 21, 2021
by Merky Books

Rating: 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Literary Fiction, Multicultural Interest

‘You can’t stop birds from flying, can you, Sameer? They go where they will…’

1960s UGANDA. Hasan is struggling to run his family business following the sudden death of his wife. Just as he begins to see a way forward, a new regime seizes power, and a wave of rising prejudice threatens to sweep away everything he has built.

Present-day LONDON. Sameer, a young high-flying lawyer, senses an emptiness in what he thought was the life of his dreams. Called back to his family home by an unexpected tragedy, Sameer begins to find the missing pieces of himself not in his future plans, but in a past he never knew.

Moving between two continents and several generations over a troubled century, We Are All Birds of Uganda is a multi-layered, moving and immensely resonant novel of love, loss, and what it means to find home.

It is the first work of fiction by Hafsa Zayyan, co-winner of the inaugural #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize, and one of the most exciting young novelists of today.

My Thoughts:

This is already one of my picks for the best books of 2021. The story-telling is engaging and captivating. Told from two different time periods and POVs, it was never confusing or jarring. I was equally invested in each storyline. The complexity of the racial issues and the long-lasting effects of British colonialism were enlightening. I can’t wait to read more about Uganda’s history (thanks to the bibliography, I know where to start.) But it’s the characters who bring this story to life. Sameer and his family, and Maryam and her family are both interconnected and multi-dimensional. I could feel the tension in Sameer between his life and the life he is looking for. I especially love Maryam’s reasoned and clear-eyed views of the past and current situation in Uganda. She has a calmness which seems resigned but you can feel her anger and frustration at the same time. I never wanted this book to end and will be recommending it to everyone. It would make a great book club pick!

Thanks to NetGalley and Merky Books for the opportunity to read this book.

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