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Hearing Birds Fly: A Year in a Mongolian Village Paperback – 23 Jan 2003
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With a skill and art quite extraordinary for a first book ... the reader is drawn into the world she describes through the warmth of her friendships and the sympathy and generosity with which she treats all aspects of her subject. I put the book down finally with a sense of absolute satisfaction, having spent the last few hours beneath the spell of a writer of real integrity and power (Chris Stewart)
Her great strength is telling the villager s' stories, which she does with an engaging blend of charm, directness, humour and awe at the power of nature... It is a mark of Waugh's success that the romantic terra incognita she describes, helped by unsentime (TLS)
An elegy to a remarkable part of the world. (SUNDAY TIMES)
Waugh has captured the starkly beautiful landscapes in restrained descriptive passages, but the most fascinating aspect of her narrative is her portrayal of the villagers and the nomads she meets higher up the mountains... HEARING BIRDS FLY is an extraordi (OBSERVER)
* Wonderfully accessible travel book on an inaccessible country - Outer Mongolia.See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is a rare and insightful look at the lives of the proud peoples of the Tsengel village and also an interesting look at how in some areas of the world the turn of the seasons is still the guiding hand to all activities that go on.
Louisa's style is warm and friendly and she never comes across as an arrogant foreigner scoffing at the primitive ways of the people. Likewise the people themselves come across to the reader as a noble and dignified folk, who do not generally begrudge their hard existence and yet can enjoy lighter moments as well. It was also refreshing to read that although Louisa's point of view was obviously from a female perspective and her closer friends were all women, she doesn't allow her writing to become a feminist crusade. The frankness of her writing is also a great credit to her.
The names of the villages are difficult to follow and more than once I had to refer to the handy guide of characters at the front of the book, and likewise, even though Louisa doesn't bombard the reader with Mongolian phrases there is a simply glossary of common phrases at the start. The one criticism I have is that there simply aren't enough photos of both the area and the people. I'm guessing this was done purposely for the privacy of the inhabitants, but it would have been nice for some more for the nosey reader!
The book was warm, sentimental, (but still factual) and extremely satisfying. I would actively seek out other books by Ms Waugh.
Like most people who love to travel, Louisa wanted an insight into the real life and culture of the country, and to do that, she had to travel beyond the beaten track, to a place where you wouldn't have been able to communicate to a single soul unless you at least spoke Mongolian. Of course, most of us can't, and in any case wouldn't have the strength of mind to live in a village where you can freeze to death in the winter if you don't make your fire properly (there's no electricity or central heating), and where the people don't only not speak your language, but are culturally different, and consistently eye you with suspicion and distrust. Louisa's isolated in this alien world, where phoning home isn't even an option, and you can't help but admire her strength of will and determination to simply survive the day-to-day. Just waking up and making a cup of tea is a struggle.
It's in this way that Louisa takes the romanticism out of travel, and brings your head-in-the-clouds back down to earth with a welcome smack of reality, making you realise that if you truly want to experience what a different culture is, it will take at least a year, and you will spend most of that time lonely, wretched and surviving.Read more ›
Although I found the writing style a little dull, I would recommend the book on two counts. First is for the information about nomadic lifestyles. Secondly is for the opportunity to reflect on westerners living and attempting to become a part of remote cultures, particularly when the experience is to be commoditised into a book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Louisa's frank and open style is refreshing. She describes the people and places, and her personal experiences of being in this tough, remote location.Published 18 months ago by E. Postlethwaite
Waugh captured me from the beginning and I immediately related to her adventurous spirit.
You feel Waugh break through many emotional barriers and her writing reflects... Read more
Well written. Honest. Transports you to a place that has changed little over many centuries by providing the daily detail of life on the Steppe.Published on 1 Dec. 2014 by Stephen J. Oneil
An excellent read which was recommended to me by a friend who goes to a book group - I am so glad she did.Published on 4 April 2014 by Amazon Customer
An excellent insight into life in a Mongolian village. Useful for anyone planning to visit Mongolia or after a visit. Highly recommended.Published on 28 Sept. 2013 by Mrs. A. M. Brooksby
Although the sub-title to this book is 'A nomadic year in Mongolia', the author spends most of her time in a small, drab settlement in the predominantly Kazakh region of the... Read morePublished on 26 Sept. 2012 by MacD
Very good, wish I had read it before my trip to Mongolia. A seemingly true insight into the the life of the Mongolian NomadsPublished on 18 Dec. 2011 by crazycowgirl