Saturday 11 July 2015

The Yellow Birds

(July 2015)

Much vaunted, this, and not undeservedly so. I need more time to roll it around my head, so you’ll have to look elsewhere for the deep and meaningful analysis (on which note, I’m definitely not a fan of the increasingly prevalent gimmick of adding book club discussion notes to the back any lit-fic paperback that didn’t tank on initial release).

All I’ll say here is that this book often feels like it should collapse under the weight of its overwriting, but just about escapes by virtue of both its brevity and the fact that there are several passages of quite stunning emotional resonance. Quoting any of them out-of-context here would be an exercise in futility, I’m afraid, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Anyway, America has been blowing the shit out of the Middle East for longer than most of the combatants have been alive, and you have to question just what sort of pathology drives that kind of obsession. The Yellow Birds provides no answers, but does important and powerful work in better framing the question. Not a masterpiece, but not half bad, either.


  1. Sorry, but this could've been the alternate title of that Orientalism, "Pictures from the Water Trade".