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The Yellow Birds [Hardcover]

Kevin Powers
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
Price: 14.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product Description


'As war novels go, THE YELLOW BIRDS is a triumph, mining the conflict in Iraq to investigate universal questions of the extent to which we are in control of our lives; the degree to which we are capable of exercising free will. As debuts go it's better yet, with an opening as arresting and beautiful as any I have recently encountered' (G2, Guardian)

Remarkable for its intensity of both feeling and expression. In this book about death, every line is a defiant assertion of the power of beauty to revivify, whether beauty shows itself in nature or (later) in art. Graves, Owen and Sassoon would have recognised this war and the strange poetry it has bred. (HILARY MANTEL, GUARDIAN BOOKS OF THE YEAR)

An extraordinary novel . . . remarkable . . . stands with Tim O'Brien's enduring Vietnam book, The Things They Carried, as a classic of contemporary war fiction . . . brilliantly observed and deeply affecting. (MICHIKO KAKUTANI, NEW YORK TIMES)

A stunning achievement, visceral [and] poignant. (SUNDAY TIMES)

A masterpiece ... a classic. (THE TIMESBOOKS OF THE YEAR)

THE YELLOW BIRDS is a wonderful, powerful novel that moves and terrifies. (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

Tautly written and unforgiving in its depiction of the human cost of war. (THE TIMES)

I found in THE YELLOW BIRDS by Kevin Powers a vivid, poetic account of modern warfare. Powers joined the US Marines at 17, going on to serve as a machine gunner in Iraq, and each line bleeds hard-fought truths. (RICHARD GODWIN, EVENING STANDARD BOOKS OF THE YEAR)

Powers has written a compassionate, poetic evocation of war and its legacy which has already been hailed as a classic of its genre. (SUNDAY EXPRESS, BOOKS OF THE YEAR)

One of the best war novels for years. (JOHN BURNSIDE, SCOTSMAN BOOKS OF THE YEAR)

'Harrowing, inexplicably beautiful, and utterly, urgently necessary.' (ANN PATCHETT, Orange Prizewinning author of Bel Canto and State of Wonder)

'Kevin Powers has conjured a poetic and devastating account of war's effect on the individual.' (DAMIAN LEWIS, star of Homeland and Band of Brothers)

Extraordinarily well-written . . . brilliant . . . he's just a really, really beautiful writer . . . everyone will be reading it. (ALEX HEMINSLEY, BBC RADIO 2 ARTS SHOW)

Reaffirms the power of fiction to tell the truth about the unspeakable ... a superb literary achievement. I urge everyone to read it. (CHRIS CLEAVE, author of The Other Hand and Gold)

Written with an intensity which is deeply compelling. (COLM TÓIBÍN, author of Brooklyn and The Master)

'This is a novel I've been waiting for. THE YELLOW BIRDS is born from experience and rendered with compassion and intelligence. All of us owe Kevin Powers our heartfelt gratitude.' (ALICE SEBOLD, author of The Lovely Bones)

. . . One of those books that knocks your perceptions into new alignment permanently. (BARBARA KINGSOLVER)

'THE YELLOW BIRDS is the All Quiet on the Western Front of America's Arab Wars.' (TOM WOLFE, author of The Bonfire of the Vanities)

[Powers] has forged a harrowing, enormously powerful first novel . . . Powers' writing is also attentive to nature and landscape, and he manages to entertain contradictory notions of beauty and horror. Wasn't that Fitzgerald's definition of genius? (FINANCIAL TIMES)

Kevin Powers' lyrical account of war's deep impact on the individual is an important addition to the tradition of American war fiction and perhaps the first great novel to emerge from the long, intractable conflicts in the Middle East. (JOHANNA THOMAS-CORR, LITERARY REVIEW)

A stunning read . . . beautiful [and] devastating. (SIMON MAYO, BBC RADIO 2 BOOK CLUB)

Thus far the definitive novel of our long wars in the Middle East; this book is certain to be read and taught for generations to come. (PHILIPP MEYER author of American Rust)

And then I heard this . . . an extraordinary novel - honest painful, poetic. Powers's exquisitely drawn portrait of three young soldiers struggling in their own way to make sense of their situation gives you the real human story. (GUARDIAN)

Kevin Powers' poetic, grievously sad debut novel captures one young man's experience of the war in Iraq . . . Powers is clear-eyed and dolorous, observing the damage done, but alive to the beauty of the landscape, and the details that cement friendship in a world dominated by violence and fear. (MARIE CLAIRE)

Page after page yields unforgettable images . . . undeniably, this is an important novel by a formidable talent. (DAILY MAIL)

A novel about the war in Iraq might not usually top your reading list, but make an exception for this one . . . it's an intense, brutal and yet lyrical tale . . . Novelists from Ann Pratchett to Colm Toibin have praised its harrowing beauty. It's an elegant literary treat. (EASY LIVING)

'The most recent war is much like the most ancient, torn bodies, cracked psyches, the emotional roundelay of pride, pain, confusion and sorrow. In THE YELLOW BIRDS, Kevin Powers has delivered an exceptional novel from the war in Iraq, written in clean, evocative prose, lyric and graphic, in assured rhythms, a story for today and tomorrow and the next.' (DANIEL WOODRELL, author of WINTER'S BONE)

We haven't just been waiting for a great novel to come out of the Iraq War, our 21st century Vietnam; we have also been waiting for something more important, a work of art that illuminates our flawed and complex and striving humanity behind all such wars. At last we have both in Kevin Powers' THE YELLOW BIRDS. (ROBERT OLEN BUTLER, author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain)

In the great tradition of Hemingway and Tim O'Brien, Kevin Powers's exquisitely written THE YELLOW BIRDS draws us in to the combat zones of Iraq: the watch, the wait ("Stay alive, Stay alert"), the bungle, the slaughter and the irreparable aftermath. (EDNA O'BRIEN, GUARDIAN)

'THE YELLOW BIRDS is a superb novel. Call it a war novel or a first novel or whatever you'd like. Powers has created a powerful work of art that captures the complexity and life altering realities of combat service. This book will endure. Read it and then put it way up on that high rare shelf alongside Ernest Hemingway and Tim O'Brien.' (ANTHONY SWOFFORD, author of Jarhead)

Short, taut and eminently readable. With a John Updike-like hypersensitivity in rendering the mundane extraordinary . . . an extremely impressive debut - Kevin Powers is a name to watch. (TIME OUT Book of the Week)

THE YELLOW BIRDS skulks along, detached and undemanding, until all of a sudden you turn a page and find yourself weeping. (GQ, Debut Novel of the Month)

Elegiac, sober, and haunting. (TIME magazine)

It is a novel about the horrors of war made beautiful by the author's poetic language which is like handsome ironmongery, delicately strong but not overwrought . . . At one stage in the book, there's a bravura passage of stream of consciousness that may well be among the most effective lines ever written about a soldier trying to come to terms with what he has seen and done. For that alone Powers deserves a medal. (THE SCOTSMAN)

Intense, painful, excellent . . . Bartle tries to piece it all together, and his torment, which must be akin to the author's, feels like a gift. (SPECTATOR)

The author's status as a veteran of the war, and therefore a curio in the American literary world, provides an unimpeachable veracity to the novel . . . It is quite clear that he is major talent. (INDEPENDENT)

[An] unforgettable debut novel . . . [Powers has] written fiction that seems more real than the "real" thing. (NEWSWEEK)

'Powers' poetic gifts render the experience of Americans in Iraq with great emotional intensity. War has been a subject of literature ever since The Iliad. The best books transcend their time and circumstances to say something enduring and truthful about war itself. THE YELLOW BIRDS belongs in that category.' (PHILIP CAPUTO, author of A Rumor of War)

Terrific . . . vivid [and] gripping. A very much needed book. (MARGARET FORSTER, author of Diary of an Ordinary Woman)

What happens to soldiers at war? THE YELLOW BIRDS delivers answers that should rightfully unnerve us, if we're still willing - ten long years into Iraq and Afghanistan - to contemplate 'our little pest of a war.' The human cost is surely beyond any comprehensible measure, but in this haunting, unflinching crucible of a novel, Kevin Powers gives us the essence, with all comfortable, corrupting illusion and rhetoric burned away. (BEN FOUNTAIN, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk)

Beautifully written . . . This is a harrowing and pitiful story of the sad waste of war. (THE LADY)

'This book epitomises the power of the written word; the language is at once poetic and brutal, vivid and sparse. A stunning, timely and engrossing novel.' (BOOKSELLER)

What impresses most here are the mournful and melodious refrains which manage to cultivate beauty and pathos from the smothering chaos and dust. (WE LOVE THIS BOOK)

A book that will make you look good on the bus . . . a powerful tale. (HEAT)

From an opening that suggests The Waste Land to a closing that echoes The Great Gatsby, Kevin Powers has crafted one of the most beguiling and beautiful war novels of recent times . . . its soul spills out over every poetic page. (RTE GUIDE)

That it horrifies with beauty and numbs by way of sensuality is Powers' big achievement (SUNDAY INDEPENDENT (DUBLIN))

If you're looking for one of the first great novels of the Iraq war, this may be it. (

It's a sad and deftly written story - and one that can stand tall with the great war novels that preceded it. (EMERALD STREET)

'By turns shocking, philosophical, frightening and elegiac, it was deservedly nominated for a National Book Award.' (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY Books of the Year)

Extraordinary . . . beautifully accomplished. The mark of an artist of the first order . . . a must-read book. (JOHN BURNSIDE, GUARDIAN)

Next to The Forever War by Dexter Filkins, it is the best thing I've read about the war in Iraq, and by far the best novel. Powers is a poet first, so the book is spare, incredibly precise, unimproveable (DAVE EGGERS OBSERVER Books of the Year)

Book Description

An unforgettable depiction of the psychological impact of war, by a young Iraq veteran and poet, THE YELLOW BIRDS is already being hailed as a modern classic.

About the Author

Kevin Powers was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, and holds an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a Michener Fellow in Poetry. He served in the US Army in 2004 and 2005 in Iraq, where he was deployed as a machine gunner in Mosul and Tal Afar. His debut novel, THE YELLOW BIRDS won the Guardian First Book Award 2012 and was a New York Times bestseller in its first week of publication.

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