Cover Image: We Are All Birds of Uganda

We Are All Birds of Uganda

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Member Reviews

3.5 stars
Overall an interesting and enjoyable debut novel. 

I struggled with the first half of the book and found it quite slow. I didn’t really “click” with any of the main characters, or find them particularly likeable. 

I began to enjoy the book much more once Sameer visited Uganda, although I found the story of his grandfather‘s life - narrated through letters to his deceased wife - quite clunky. The history included in the letters was very informative but I think the book would have flowed better to switch between the characters and timelines, rather than in epistolary form.  From reading other reviews, it sounds like the audiobook version may have suited me more. 

I found it fascinating to learn about Uganda; the history of migration from India/South Asia and then to Britain following Amin’s regime. Zayann’s descriptions of Uganda are enchanting and transportive. 

The themes of race, identity and belonging were very well portrayed and I found her descriptions of racism to be thought provoking. 

I would have rounded this up to 4 stars, but for the abrupt ending. 

Thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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The pace of the narrative, the elegance of the writing and the depiction of the range of characters portrayed are striking. A wonderful debut.
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This is an incredible novel that I did not expect to love as much as I did. 
The split timeline between modern day Uganda/London and 1960s Uganda/London was beautiful. To be able to write in such a different style between the two timelines really blew me away. For me one of the joys of reading is learning about a piece of history, or a culture or part of the world that isn't something that is in the forefront of the literature/news I consume and this hit that joy head on. Thoroughly enjoyable!
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This is by far the best book i have ever read i think. I cried at least 3 times reading it at some of the most bizzare moments but the crying was because i just related so much to it.

i loved Sameer. I am not African, i have never been to Uganda, but i am Muslim and I do live in the UK so i understood this side very clearly. It is one thing to experience racism and another to read about it. 

There were so many parts that i wanted to highlight and i have never so badly wanted to annotate a book before, as I did with this one. I am going to purchase a physical copy and annonate it, to the point that you wont be able to see any other words than my own 🤣🤣🤣🤣

The story was beautiful and realistic. The book is split between letters from the past and then Sameer's story, but I was so anxious for Sameer and his wellbeing, that i skipped ALL of the "letters" until i knew what happened to Sam and then i went back to read the letters, so it kind of felt like i read 2 books 🤣🤣

Some parts that resonated so well with me:
- people assuming you wont go to social events because you don't drink
- peer pressure to drink alcohol
- questioning someone's choice to practice their religion in the way they see fit..
- being ignorant regarding pork/alcohol and making a joke out of it.
- racism within our own communities 

And so much more. I LOVED this with everything i am. Beautiful writing, i just fell in love
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A stunning novel which tells an engrossing story whilst at the same time educating about a very important part of African history.  Told in two related time frames, it tells the stories of modern-day Sameer and from the 1940s the story of his grandfather, Hasan.  I really enjoyed the two stories.  However, I was a bit disappointed by the rather overly-neat love story, and I have big issues with the ending.  Overall, though, highly recommended.
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A beautiful heart-wrenching tale from a new voice bound to become a literary favourite. Looking forward to seeing what else Hafsa has in store..
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This was a little disappointing; very traumatic and the writing was a bit underpolished. Great for a brand new writer though, hope to see them develop over time.
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This is a complicated story that left me thinking for days. I was deeply entrenched in the writing of this book, and I was gripped from the very first pages.
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Thanks to Netgalley, the author and the publishers for this lovely novel.

I appreciate this book for the way it deals with religion and faith. I don't think you get many novels like these today, so this was a breath of fresh air. Told in 2 parts, one in the present day, one in letters, it's such a unique story. The letters section was extremely well done, and I don't think I've ever read a novel written just like this! Its structure is definitely a testament to the author.
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What a title and cover first of all!

This book taught me a lot and I don't mean that it was dry or overly informative. It was just very well researched and so  you really felt part of the characters journey.

The main theme is the displacement of East Africa Indians from Uganda . A very important period of history that I really feel I know something about now thanks to this novel. A shocking subject but one nicely done.
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A Family saga that has overlapping themes of racism, bullying, and displacement- set in Uganda. Narrated in shifting timelines, this book brings out the life in that era beautifully. The prose is succulent and the pages turn faster with each chapter.

The displacement of East Africa Indians from Uganda is an event of historical significance and here is a book that does justice to it.
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Sameer is a lawyer of South Asian descent living in London, whilst his family lives in Leicester. He accepts an opportunity to go to Singapore, then begins to have doubts. This is partly due to a racist work colleague, and also to a racially motivated assault that leaves a childhood friend in hospital.

We also meet Sameer's grandfather, Hasan, through a series of letters written to his first wife. Hasan was forced to leave Uganda in the early 1970s after the coup by Idi Amin. Sameer makes his own journey to Uganda, and whilst there, meets Maryam, a doctor. He falls in love with the country and with her.

I found this a satisfying read, although the ending came abruptly and in a place that suggests the author has more to tell. The themes - of belonging, friendship, identity, family loyalty, loss, religion, and culture - are skilfully interwoven by Hafsa Zayyan into a narrative that kept me engaged throughout.

Sameer's internal struggle with his sense of identity, the demands on him from his parents and employers, and the new freedom he finds in Uganda, all make sense. He moves from a lack of awareness and insularity to self-discovery and a sense of fulfilment. 

The book does not shy away from the difficult narrative of displacement and racism, and the way inherent distrust between two cultures is handed down from one generation to another. The fractures that occur between parents and children and how past impacts on present also feature strongly.

I was sent an advance review copy of this book by Random House UK, Cornerstone, in return for an honest appraisal.
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I didn't get warm with this one. The premise sounded extremely interesting, but I found the execution didn't do anything for me. The details of Sameers present day life I found rather banal and tedious. And I found - unfortunately - just as little acces to the part of the family history in Uganda. The time and circumstances are certainly an extremely interesting topic, but I felt underwhelmed over all.
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I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Random House, and the author Hafsa Zayyan. 
I really enjoyed this novel and learning more about life in Uganda, particularly for Ugandan Asians. The story was beautifully and vividly written, covering many important topics from different perspectives.
The only thing stopping me from giving me this 5 stars is that I found Sameer to be quite an unlikeable character, and I found the ending very sudden and predictable, leaving a loose ends. 
Either way, would still highly recommend! 4 stars.
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To be honest, I did'nt finish this book. It's well written, the story is interesting, it's just, that at the moment I'm not feeling up to family drama... That's why I can't really review it. So, the rating is based on my view on the writing style, the storybuilding and the characterbuilding.
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Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for the ARe-copy in exchange for this honest review.
This is a thought-provoking story following an Asian-Ugandan family now living in Britain following their exile in the 1970s. I warmed to the characters and engaged with both the present day and historical timelines of the book. The family dynamics were well portrayed and the relationships very vivid in the struggles they faced. The heartbreaking events that tore the family in Uganda apart were moving and I appreciated the way the generational experiences played out within the family.
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Alternating between Sameer's present day life in London and Hassan's letters to his late wife in 1960s Kampala, We Are All Birds Of Uganda tells the story of two generations of the same family, crossing multiple decades and continents. Despite the many differences to their lives, Hassan and Sameer both face massive upheaval, racial prejudices and the committment of family and religion. 

The writing is absolutely beautiful, with a richly transportative text. The scenes in Uganda, both past and present, feel so vivid that you almost feel like you're in the scene with them. Zayyan cleverly conveys the love both men have for the country, whilst not glossing over the tumultuous history of British colonisation, the impact that still has on present day Uganda and the difficult relationship between Asian and black Ugandans. 

I found I wasn't as invested in Hassan's story until Sameer went to Uganda and their story begins to intertwine, at which point I found I couldn't put it down. The unexpected love interest was a delight and gave the story a beautiful and satisfying arc. 

We Are All Birds Of Uganda is one of the best debut novels I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Zayyan has expertly sewn together a dual timeline, not only telling a beautiful story but throwing in fascinating history about Islam, Uganda, British colonisation and the rise of Idi Amin. I would urge everyone to pick it up. 

A massive thank you to @netgalley and the publishers for this copy in exchange for me honest review
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A highly recommended and interesting read that held me from start to finish. I became very invested in following the story of Sameer, a high flying lawyer based in London, who also visits Uganda to explore his roots. We also follow Sameer’s grandfather, Hasan, and his story in Uganda through his letters. 
Many themes are well covered, from Uganda’s history and culture to racism, family, religion and romance. 
I thought that I knew where this story was heading, but it had a very unexpected and thought provoking ending. What a super debut novel, I hope there will be a sequel. 
I rated this 4.5 stars.
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Thanks to Merky Books for the ARC.

I loved this debut by Zayyan.- it was brilliant to see a book set in the UK outside of London first of all (well, half of it). She covers a range of themes in the novel and the characters are real and convincing. Most of all she tries to address the question of 'what does home mean?' and where on truly belongs.

Some of it was clunky - for example the letters device as historical exposition - but overall a good read.
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Someone said "We Are All Birds of Uganda is a marriage between history and the present day; a reconciliation of old and new-found identities; an amalgamation of the strengths and struggles of the Ugandan-Asian diaspora, seeping through generations" and I totally agree with this. It is quite evocative and one is transported to the world of Uganda which reader enjoys while getting to know the lives of Sameer, a high end lawyer and Hassan who has lost his first wife and lives in Uganda. Story mainly focuses on racism, post war and colonialism effects. 
A fresh voice in literary world, I look fwd to read more books from Hafza Zayyan
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