When We Were Birds
by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo
Pub Date 10 Feb 2022 | Archive Date 10 Feb 2022
Darwin is a down-on-his-luck gravedigger, newly arrived in the city of Port Angeles to seek his fortune, young and beautiful and lost. Estranged from his mother and the Rastafari faith she taught him, he is convinced that the father he never met may be waiting for him somewhere amid these bustling streets.
Meanwhile in an old house on a hill, where the city meets the rainforest, Yejide's mother is dying. And she is leaving behind a legacy that now passes to Yejide: the power to talk to the departed. The women of Yejide's family are human but also not - descended from corbeau, the black birds that fly east at sunset, taking with them the souls of the dead.
Darwin and Yejide both have something that the other needs. Their destinies are intertwined, and they will find one another in the sprawling, ancient cemetery at the heart of Port Angeles, where trouble is brewing...
Embedded with a timeless, mythic magic and wisdom, and yet alive with a totally fresh, modern sensibility, this hypnotic literary debut is a masterpiece of rhythm, exuberance, heart, loss in cycle with renewal and darkness with light: a reckoning with a grief that runs back generations and a defiant, joyful affirmation of hope.