Birds Without Wings

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Louis de Bernières’s last novel, Corelli’s Mandolin, was met with the highest praise: “Behind every page,” said Richard Russo, “we sense its author’s intelligence, wit, heart, imagination, and wisdom. This is a great book.” A. S. Byatt placed the author in “the direct line that runs through Dickens and Evelyn Waugh.” Now, de Bernières gives us his long-awaited new novel. Huge, resonant, lyrical, filled with humor and pathos, a novel about the political and personal costs of war, and of love–between men and women, between friends, between those who are driven to be enemies.

It is the story of a small coastal town in South West Anatolia in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire told in the richly varied voices of the people–Christians and Muslims of Turkish and Greek and Armenian descent–whose lives are rooted there, intertwined for untold years. There is Iskander, the potter and local font of proverbial wisdom; Karatavuk–Iskander’s son–and Mehmetçik, childhood friends whose playground stretches across the hills above the town, where Mehmetçik teaches the illiterate Karatavuk to write Turkish in Greek letters. There are Father Kristoforos and Abdulhamid Hodja, holy men of different faiths who greet each other as “Infidel Efendi”; Rustem Bey, the landlord and protector of the town, whose wife is stoned for the sin of adultery. There is a man known as “the Dog” because of his hideous aspect, who lives among the Lycian tombs; and another known as “the Blasphemer,” who wanders the town cursing God and all of his representatives of all faiths. And there is Philothei, the Christian girl of legendary beauty, courted from infancy by Ibrahim the goatherd–a great love that culminates in tragedy and madness. But Birds Without Wings is also the story of Mustafa Kemal, whose military genius will lead him to victory against the invading Western European forces of the Great War and a reshaping of the whole region.

When the young men of the town are conscripted, we follow Karatavuk to Gallipoli, where the intimate brutality of battle robs him of all innocence. And in the town he left behind, we see how the twin scourges of fanatical religion and nationalism unleashed by the war quickly, and irreversibly, destroy the fabric of centuries-old peace.

Epic in its narrative sweep–steeped in historical fact–yet profoundly humane and dazzlingly evocative in its emotional and sensual detail, Birds Without Wings is a triumph.

Product Details

  • Sales Rank: #222169 in Books
  • Brand: Knopf
  • Published on: 2004-08-24
  • Released on: 2004-08-24
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 9.53" h x 1.39" w x 6.54" l,
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 576 pages


  • Great product!


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