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The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

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Winner of the Guardian First Book Award 2012.

An unforgettable depiction of the psychological impact of war, by a young Iraq veteran and poet, The Yellow Birds is already being hailed as a modern classic.

If you like Kevin Powers you might also like to read books by Karl Marlantes, Tim O'Brien and Michael Herr.


The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

Winner of the Guardian First Book Award 2012.

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 its 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.


'Extraordinary ... beautifully accomplished. The mark of an artist of the first order ... a must-read book.'
John Burnside, GUARDIAN

'Harrowing, inexplicably beautiful, and utterly, urgently necessary.'
ANN PATCHETT, Orange Prizewinning author of Bel Canto and State of Wonder

'Kevin Powers has conjured a poetic and devastating account of war's effect on the individual.'
DAMIAN LEWIS, star of Homeland and Band of Brothers

'A stunning achievement visceral [and] poignant.'

'Extraordinarily well-written ... brilliant ... he's just a really, really beautiful writer ... everyone will be reading it.'

'Reaffirms the power of fiction to tell the truth about the unspeakable ... a superb literary achievement. I urge everyone to read it.'
CHRIS CLEAVE, author of The Other Hand and Gold

'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. All of us owe Kevin Powers our heartfelt gratitude.'
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

'An extraordinary novel ... remarkable ... stands with Tim O'Brien's enduring Vietnam book, The Things They Carried, as a classic of contemporary war fiction ... brilliantly observed and deeply affecting.'

'THE YELLOW BIRDS is a wonderful, powerful novel that moves and terrifies.'

'A stunning read ... beautiful [and] devastating.'

'Thus far the definitive novel of our long wars in the Middle East; this book is certain to be read and taught for generations to come.'
PHILIPP MEYER author of American Rust

'Kevin Powers' poetic, grievously sad debut novel captures one young man's experience of the war in Iraq ... Powers is clear-eyed and dolorous, observing the damage done, but alive to the beauty of the landscape, and the details that cement friendship in a world dominated by violence and fear.'

'Page after page yields unforgettable images ... undeniably, this is an important novel by a formidable talent.'

'A novel about the war in Iraq might not usually top your reading list, but make an exception for this one ... it's an intense, brutal and yet lyrical tale ... Novelists from Ann Pratchett to Colm Toibin have praised its harrowing beauty. It's an elegant literary treat.'

About the Author

Kevin Powers

Kevin Powers was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, and holds an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a Michener Fellow in Poetry. He served in the US Army in 2004 and 2005 in Iraq, where he was deployed as a machine gunner in Mosul and Tal Afar. His debut novel, The Yellow Birds was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award 2012 and was a New York Times bestseller in its first week of publication.

Author photo © Kelly Powers

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Book Info

Publication date

30th November 1999


Kevin Powers

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