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Tiny Sunbirds Far Away [Paperback]

Christie Watson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (183 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 5.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

1 Dec 2011

WINNER OF THE COSTA FIRST NOVEL AWARD. 'Everything changed after Mama found Father lying on top of another woman.' Blessing and her brother Ezikiel adore their larger-than-life father, their glamorous mother and their comfortable life in Lagos. But all that changes when their father leaves them for another woman. Their mother is fired from her job at the Royal Imperial Hotel - only married women can work there - and soon they have to quit their air-conditioned apartment to go and live with their grandparents in a compound in the Niger Delta. Adapting to life with a poor countryside family is a shock beyond measure after their privileged upbringing in Lagos. Told in Blessing's own beguiling voice, Tiny Sunbirds Far Away shows how some families can survive almost anything. At times hilarious, always poignant, occasionally tragic, it is peopled with characters you will never forget.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (1 Dec 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849163758
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849163750
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (183 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Absorbing and passionate' The Guardian. 'Skilfully treading the fine line between gritty hardship and homespun warmth ... Christie Watson's affecting but unsentimental debut earns its place in the sun' The Independent.

'heart-warming' Telegraph. 'Readability and literary merit go hand in hand in this vibrant gem of a novel' The Costa Judges.

'An excellent novel. It takes the reader deep into the reality of ordinary life in Nigeria and is also funny, moving and politically alert' Giles Foden, author of The Last King of Scotland.

'does what fiction does best, it captures place and characters so well that you feel you are there. It is sincere, it is powerfully written, and it deserves to be read' Helon Habila, author of Oil on Water.

'The gripping, triumphant tale of a girl who chooses life over loss, in a sweet but savage world where oil is bled from the earth' Lola Shoneyin, author of The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives.

'A must-read. Lyrical and beautifully drawn, a poignant coming of age tale, set in an Africa few readers will have experienced' Lesley Lokko. 'So good I had to lie down after reading it' Trezza Azzopardi.

'A fascinating, poignant story that had me laughing in places and deeply moved in others' Ike Anya.

'Watson's nuanced portrayal of daily life in Nigeria is peopled with flawed but tenacious characters who fight not only for survival but for dignity. Blessing is a wonderful narrator whose vivid impressions enliven Watson's sensual prose' Publishers Weekly.

'Funny, tragic and moving all in the right places' Pride. 'An immensely absorbing novel. It is both heart-wrenching and consoling' Chika Unigwe, author of On Black Sisters' Street.

From the Back Cover

Lagos, Nigeria. Blessing's Mama found Father lying on top of another woman. It's bad enough when her father abandons them. But when her mother loses her job, they have to leave home and move into her grandfather's compound. Living with a poor countryside family is a shock beyond measure. Everything changed after that.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 50 people found the following review helpful
By Jude
I started reading this book on a flight and I did not want to put it down going through Passport control!

Having never been to Nigeria and knowing little about the cultures or politics, I thought that I could understand more from reading Tiny Sunbirds.

What I did not expect was to be drawn in to every character ( a real person to me), place and situation. I feel like I have lived among the family that the book portrays, so acutely and intimately.

It is such a cliche to say "I could not put it down" but I couldn't. I read it fairly slowly, concentrating to learn the new words and descriptions that I was learning. Smelling the oil, river and streets and tasting the new foods that I have never actually experienced.

Gasping, laughing and dismaying out loud, it was an emotional ride.

I cannot recommend this book enough, whether you want to be more informed, stimulated, inspired, gratified or simply to experience a brilliantly written, beautiful story.

Amazing that this is the authors first novel, I certainly look forward to her next.

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An easy read touching on some bigger topics 31 Dec 2012
By avaline
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A simple tale of one family's story seen through the eyes of a young girl. Whilst nowhere near the five stars that some have given, the story touches on the contribution of "big oil" to the unrest in Nigeria in a way that is easy to understand, and does draw you in nicely to the characters within the family.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly amazing book 5 April 2011
By Maria
This brilliant book is so much more than just a compelling storyline with skilfully developed and believable characters. With a light hand the author touches on a variety of important topics including relationships, growing up, politics, poverty, culture and traditions in Nigeria, midwifery and the cruelty of female circumcision. The book is dark and sad but also filled with strength, hope and joy. From the first word to the last, this book will move you.
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57 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and Heartbreaking 25 May 2011
Tiny Sunbirds Far Away is a wonderful story that is in equal measures both hilarious and heartbreaking. Tiny Sunbirds doesn't read like a debut at all, rather it is the assured voice of an author who knows the environment as intimately as she knows her characters. The way that the simmering political situation literally and figuratively explodes two-thirds of the way into the novel is handled deftly and lightly. My favourite character is definitely Celestine (I would happily supply her with more lycra from London) - and her character's progression was believable and entirely moving - but all the characters are very sensitively drawn and the dialogue moves the novel along at quite a pace. A brilliant book with a brilliant story: perfect to read in one or two sittings. Completely gripping.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous book! 15 Mar 2011
By H Allen
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I thought I would like this book as it appears to cover everything I like in fiction, and it certainly didn't disappoint. It's well written with a lovely lyrical style and clearly very well researched. It covers a range of big topics affecting that region - politics, religion, oil, and female circumcision without being overly heavy. I thought the storyline for Blessing was excellent and there were some unexpected twists and turns along the way. I think I experienced every emotion available whilst reading this - definitely horror, anger, dispair and I was in tears for the last 50 pages or so.

I would thoroughly recommend this book - it's a keeper for me.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read with fascinating cultural insights 2 Jun 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was a book club choice. I'd heard Christie Watson being interviewed on Woman's Hour but wasn't too convinced I wanted to read the book. However, I was very wrong. Using a young girl who is Nigerian but uprooted from an urban environment to a rural environment is a very clever way for an outsider to convey the strangeness of village life. The deeply patriarchal attitudes made me really angry at times but there was so much more that overcame this. It's a very fascinating (and well written) tale of youngsters struggling in a new family situation with a backdrop of oil politics alongside some very complex attitudes towards female genital mutilation and women's empowerment. I should say, it's not just a woman's book - the brother's story is riveting. Heartily recommend it and the only reason it's not got 5 stars is because I reserve that score for truly excellent books.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful 18 Mar 2011
I learned more about life in Nigeria from this book than I ever have in my 68 years on this earth. A very moving insightful book written with knowledge of the country , medicine and human emotions. I thoroughly recommend it. Warning ! -- have a large box of tissues nearby !
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unstoppable Page-Turner with Literary Clout 6 May 2011
It isn't often that a plot with such great pace has such real and lovable characters, such a complex message, or true stylistic flair, but Tiny Sunbirds Far Away has it all. I was meant to be working, but I couldn't put this down. I'm not sure I've ever cried so much from reading a book. I was utterly hooked, eating up the story, hopelessly attached to Blessing and Ezekiel. The complexities of this book and the beauty of its language are there all the way through, but it is almost too compelling; you keep turning and turning the pages without pause, and it is only after you have read it that the depth of its brilliance begins to dawn on you.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative story telling
This story is a coming of age novel written through the eyes of a pre pubescent girl, growing up in a Nigerian village culture which is not only alien to the readers but also to... Read more
Published 1 hour ago by moorlander
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic
A well written book that makes you turn every page. The story line is detailed enough to create the images in your head, but not too detailed to be boring. Highly recommend.
Published 1 day ago by morleykins
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful story
Almost 5 stars but the development of the story couldn't quite fulfil it's earlier promise. Highlighted some important and powerful issues. Read more
Published 1 month ago by jen
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly fabulous read
I did not expect this book to be such a compelling read. What a great insight into a life so different from ours. Laughter and tears. Thoroughly recommend it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mary B
3.0 out of 5 stars Sweet story and interesting read
Tiny Sunbirds Far Away is a sweet story about a young Nigerian girl whose life is turned on its head when her father runs off with another woman and the family are forced back to... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kate Chi
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good read
I found this story very compelling. It shows the vast contrast between living in the city and out in the bush of Africa.Very good story.
Published 2 months ago by Judith
4.0 out of 5 stars Culture book
This book was suggested in our book club, quite an eye opener to Nigerian life.
Interesting , well written and would recommend as an easy read.
Published 2 months ago by Jr
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading
This is a very well written book. It sustains interest to the end. It is very thought provoking in the issues that it raises.
Published 2 months ago by SHEILA MALIN
3.0 out of 5 stars hard to read sometimes
Found this difficult to read in parts as there were few happy bits and little chance of a happy ending!
Published 2 months ago by SSG
5.0 out of 5 stars Just as beautiful as its title
Could a book have a more beautiful title? And the novel itself is just as gorgeous; it made me laugh, surprised me and (embarrassingly) had me crying on the tube on more than one... Read more
Published 3 months ago by StephanieIsReading
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