Review written by Caroline Goldsmith
Buy this book from Amazon here: Tiny Sunbirds Far Away
Twelve year old Blessing is torn from her air conditioned life in Lagos with her brother Ezekiel and her parents when her father is found “on top of another woman”. Flung from their lives of relative luxury to a rural existence of poverty in the searing Nigerian sun with her grandfather and grandmother, Blessing’s world is turned upside down. Set in the dramatic Nigerian delta, Watson’s book paints a bleak picture of a community torn apart by sectarian violence as their country is drained of the precious “black gold” by the foreign oil companies from the west.
There are some truly harrowing scenes when Watson handles the subjects of female circumcision and the all-pervading threat of violence, and sexual violation from the “area boys” and the local police. But this is far from a bleak book. Watson writes with a gentle humour and an real affection for her characters. This is, on the one side, a coming of age tale as Blessing is flung from childish innocence to a world of struggle and blood but it is also the story of a family and the place they call home. It is a story about morality, responsibility, survival and the love of a family. Many of the final scenes are written with such poignancy and beauty that I shed real tears and the voice of Blessing stayed with me long after I had closed the book.
Christie Watson’s writing is authentic and beautifully observed, blending the tragic with the comic. This is her debut novel, and winner of the Costa Award 2011. She is truly a writer to watch.
Tiny Sunbirds Far Away by Christie Watson is published by Quercus Books.