Birds Without Wings is set in the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century, and focuses on a small town on the Anatolian coast named Eskibahçe. The village is home to a mixture of Christian and Muslim people who live in relative peace until the start of World War I brings tension and divisive nationalism into their midst. The story follows many characters: Leyla, the mistress of a wealthy landowner, pretending to be Circassian to keep her benefactor’s attention; a silent, tattered man called The Dog who lives in the ruins above the village; Iskander the potter, who makes bird whistles so realistic that the neighborhood children begin to think they can fly; and a Christian girl named Philothei and Muslim boy named Ibrahim, whose engagement is prolonged by the faraway war.
“There comes a point in life where each one of us who survives begins to feel like a ghost that has forgotten to die at the right time, and certainly most of us were more amusing when we were young. It seems that age folds the heart in on itself.”
Louis de Bernières is the author of several novels, including Corelli’s Mandolin, The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts, and The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman. He lives in England.
Length: 550 pages
Set in: Turkey
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