Tuesday, April 15, 2014

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

Read this book. Do it. Read it now.
Happy day! One of my favorite books of the year, a book that has haunted me for months now since I read it, is finally on sale. If I were to pick an early favorite for this year's Man Booker Prize, All the Birds, Singing 
would be that pick.

Evie Wyld showed that she is a writer with some mad skills with her debut novel, the award winning After the Fire, a Still Small Voice, a novel about fathers and sons and the cost of war set in Australia. Now she's ready to explode to the literary forefront with her sophomore effort, All the Birds, Singing. I love this book.

Jake is an isolated woman working as a sheep farmer on an island off the coast of England. She is damaged (an understatement), and only the animals provide a reprieve from her remoteness. Then, at night, something begins to mutilate her sheep. She hears noises in the dark, and she finds the torn apart bodies of her flock. (I should mention that this novel isn't a comedy.) How did Jake get to this place? And what's happening?
Wyld's first book,
also great reading

Wyld unravels Jake's story in alternating chapters, with flashbacks starting in the present and then moving backward in time. In the present, the reader is struggling with the violence of the sheep murders and the unknown perpetrator (wolf? man? monster?). In the flashbacks, the reader encounters Jake the prostitute, Jake the captive, Jake the woman with unexplained scars on her back, and Jake the teenager in Australia. One reason I love this book is that the reader's opinions about the characters shift as more of the back story is revealed. Can a man who seems like a monster also be a man who's down on his luck and a simple farmer? How does a woman so cold and dissociated as Jake become so human? The method of storytelling adds depth and tension to the narrative.
Evie Wyld

I should also mention that Evie Wyld is a brilliant writer. She conjures visceral moments with words, but her novels don't bog down with heavy handed descriptive passages. Evie Wyld should rank among the titans of a new generation of writers and should win major awards. I would eagerly read anything she wrote.

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