Synopses & Reviews
Winner of Barbara Kingsolver's Bellwether Prize, an award in support of a literature of social responsibility, The Book of Dead Birds
is an intimate portrait of a young woman at a defining moment in her life, who stands at the intersection of two cultures and races.
Ava Sing Lo has been accidentally killing her mother's birds since she was a little girl. Now, having just finished her graduate work, Ava leaves her native San Diego for the Salton Sea, where she volunteers to help environmental activists save thousands of birds poisoned by agricultural run-off.
Helen, Ava's mother, has been haunted by her past for decades. As a young girl in Korea, Helen was drawn into prostitution on a segregated American army base. Several brutal years passed before a young white American soldier married her and brought her to California. When she gave birth to a black baby, her new husband quickly abandoned her, and she was left to fend for herself and her daughter in a foreign country.
With great beauty and lyricism, The Book of Dead Birds captures a young woman's struggle to come to terms with her mother's terrible past while she searches for her own place in the world. This moving mother-daughter story of migration, survival, and reconciliation resonates across cultures and through generations.
"A moving and perceptive first novel." O Magazine
"It has an edgy beauty that enhances perfectly the seriousness of its contents." Toni Morrison
"Lyrical, imaginative, beautifully crafted, and deeply intelligent. Before anything else, its characters take you by the heart." Barbara Kingsolver
"The Book of Dead Birds is a story of healing a skillful, textured weaving of dark and light." Donna M. Gershten, author of Kissing the Virgin's Mouth
"An emotional story forged in crystalline prose....Brandeis channels Ava with the precision of a poet, creating an elegant tale...in which beauty is rendered from brutal sources." Bust Magazine
"A wrenching tale." Kirkus Reviews
"Intricate and elegant...a novel that illustrates a compelling search for meaning that is ultimately familiar." Denver Post
With great beauty and lyricism, Brandeis eloquently captures a young woman's struggle to come to terms with her mother's terrible past while she searches for her own place in the world. This moving story of migration, survival, and reconciliation resonates across cultures and through generations.
About the Author
Gayle Brandeis is the author of The Book of Dead Birds, the winner of Barbara Kingsolver's Bellwether Prize, an award in support of a literature of social change. Reviewers have highly praised this, her first novel, and Toni Morrison said: "It has an edgy beauty that enhances perfectly the seriousness of its contents." She is also the author. Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write.