The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
Winner of the Guardian First Book Award 2012
An unforgettable depiction of the psychological impact of war, by a young Iraq war veteran and poet, The Yellow Birds is already being hailed as a modern classic.
Everywhere John looks, he sees Murph. He flinches when cars drive past. His fingers clasp around the rifle he hasn’t held for months. Wide-eyed strangers praise him as a hero, but he can feel himself disappearing. Back home after a year in Iraq, memories swarm around him: bodies burning in the crisp morning air. Sunlight falling through branches; bullets kicking up dust; ripples on a pond wavering like plucked strings. The promise he made, to a young man’s mother, that her son would be brought home safely.
With The Yellow Birds, poet and veteran Kevin Powers has composed an unforgettable account of friendship and loss. It vividly captures the desperation and brutality of war, and it’s terrible after-effects. But it is also a story of love, of great courage, and of extraordinary human survival. Written with profound emotional insight, especially into the effects of a hidden war on families at home, The Yellow Birds is one of the most haunting, true and powerful novels of our time
‘Kevin Powers has conjured a poetic and devastating account of war’s effect on the individual.’ Damian Lewis, star of Homeland
‘Written with an intensity which is deeply compelling.’ Colm Toibin 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.’ Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones
‘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 . . . ‘ Financial Times
‘A stunning read . . . beautiful and devastating.’ Simon Mayo , BBC Radio 2 Book Club
‘Extraordinary . . . beautifully accomplished. The mark of an artist of the first order . . . a must-read book.’ Guardian