Friday, 27 June 2014

All the Birds, Singing

All the birds are singing in my part of the world this morning, because I woke up to find that Evie Wyld, author of All the Birds, Singing, has won the Miles Franklin Award.  I am so pleased.

This is a wonderful novel. It's not joyous, it's bleak and dismal, but it has heart. Two stories are told in turn, one from the narrator's early life and one from her present. The twist is that the early life is told backwards, which is quite a feat and one which the author manages to hold together. The beauty of this is that you draw ever-nearer to the event that turned the narrator into the woman she is today - an Australian woman farming sheep on a wind-swept island off the coast of Britain. Plenty of reviews of this book will tell you that the plot involves her sheep being killed by something or somebody, but that's a small aside. The story is really about her finding her place in the world. Wyld's descriptions of Australia and the bleak, cold place where she breeds sheep are lyrical and evocative, and she has a talent for describing the ugly things of life without flinching. The other thing that comes across is a feeling for what it means to be a migrant: when you are in one land, you long to be in the other, and vice versa. 


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