Bird Life

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$18.00  $16.74
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5.3 X 8.2 X 1.0 inches | 0.65 pounds

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About the Author

Anna Smaill is a poet and novelist. She was born in Auckland, New Zealand and lived in Tokyo for two years before moving to the United Kingdom where she completed a PhD at University College London. In 2015, she published her debut novel, The Chimes, which won the World Fantasy Award and was longlisted for the Booker Prize. She lives on Wellington's south coast with her husband and their two children.


"Magic, mental illness, and sorrow drive this powerful offering ... Smaill excels equally at emotional drama, magical realism, and horror. Readers will find much to love."
--Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Bird Life is a deeply affecting novel, transcending cultural barriers while reaching through them to the essentially human."
--David Mills, The Times

"A beautifully lyrical tale of loss, grief, and madness, whose central characters are so deftly drawn that you find yourself breathlessly following them down. Magically strange yet horribly real."
--Mat Osman, bassist of Suede and author of The Ghost Theatre

"Bird Life is an astonishing book about grief, beauty, and survival ... the writing enters your bloodstream like a strange and wonderful drug."
--Emily Perkins, author of Lioness

"The two women at the centrer of Anna Smaill's lovely, disconcerting novel Bird Life feel certain something is about to happen--something that's about to change everything. These kinds of proclamations in a novel can feel unfulfillable, but when Dinah and Yasuko finally do meet, the transformations each affects upon the other are surprising, consuming, and satisfying. Smaill's crystalline prose brings us inside each of their minds as they maneuver through a thoroughly modern cityscape into which the natural world is forever making incursions. An unusual, empathetic, and compulsively readable tale."
--Dan Kois, author of Vintage Contemporaries

"Smaill writes compellingly about the all-consuming nature of grief and the afterlife of those left behind. She also absorbingly evokes Yasuko's mental illness, which sees her consulting beetles and birds for their counsel."
--Stephanie Cross, Daily Mail

"Bird Life is immersive, beautifully constructed and fascinating in its portrayal of love and sorrow and the ways in which a mind constructs its world. It's a fresh, beautifully written book, perfect for a reader looking for something out of the ordinary."
--Louise Ward, NZ Herald

Praise for The Chimes:

"Something strikingly new."
--Lit Hub

"Smaill's clever use of musical terms in her characters' speech adds to the immersive quality of the work, and her melodious prose lures the reader like a pied piper. With literary trappings but a solidly speculative heart, The Chimes is a cantata of pure delight."
--Jaclyn Fulwood Shelf Awareness, starred review

"Smaill is a classically trained musician--a violinist, to be precise--and it shows on every page of The Chimes. Not only does music saturate the book's setting, it fills its themes and prose ... For all the poetry and lyricism, The Chimes is a solid, suspenseful adventure story at heart, complete with a quest, a prophecy, and a simmering, deeply moving romance ... lucid yet dreamlike writing pulls it through. Not to mention her deft, tender characterization ... [and] profound ideas and images echoing throughout"
--NPR Books

"Entrancingly poetic and engagingly plotted, this is a story that brims with heart and soul.."
--Kirkus Reviews

"To call The Chimes striking is, I dare say, to underplay what might be the most distinctive debut of the decade."

"One of a kind, both in its dystopian landscape and use of gorgeous language throughout ... Fans of the eloquence and imagery of Jeff VanderMeer's 'Southern Reach' trilogy and the spare desolation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road will adore this original work."
--Megan McArdle, Library Journal, starred review, Debut of the Month

"A highly original dystopian masterpiece, an intricately imagined, exquisitely invoked world in which music instills order and ravages individuality ... Smaill is a poet and a classically trained violinist, and both these skills shine in this lyrical novel steeped in the language of music ... clearly marking her as an exciting new writer to watch."
--Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March

"Cleverly orchestrated and poignantly conveyed throughout."
--The Guardian

"The Chimes is a remarkable debut. It's inventive, beautifully written, and completely absorbing. I highly recommend it."
--Kevin Powers, author of The Yellow Birds

"Superb ... intriguing, ambitious, and strikingly written."
--James Kidd, Independent on Sunday

"The novel is hypnotic, melancholic and requires concentration, but it builds to an incredibly tense and emotionally satisfying climax that rewards all the effort."
--Elle Magazine