The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers: July 2013 book of the month
The Yellow Birds follows a young soldier's experience fighting in Iraq, his friendship with his comrades, his moments of combat, and his disorientation when discharged back to civilian life.
The first chapter sees John and his friend Murph in a rooftop firefight that kills their translator, and John ruminating that 'we saw each death as an affirmation of our lives. That each one of those deaths belonged to a time and that therefore that time was not ours'.
The book then moves back and forth in time, between the battalion's arrival in the desert and John's haunted post-war existence, unable to deal with the pride and admiration of his family and friends or the terrible resulting sensations, 'like there was acid seeping down into your soul and then your soul is gone'.
John's depression, guilt, purposelessness and alienation brilliantly reveal the vagueness of trained violence. The intricate structure of the book swings you from the staccato intensity of battle to the complex, heart-wrenching psychological fights within the mind. It is an intense reading experience - and one of harrowing truthfulness. Every moment, every image, is a precise and startlingly original vision of war and its effects.
The writing is exquisitely poetic in places and brutally raw in others - the book has already won the Guardian First Book Award and the Pen Hemingway Award. The Yellow Birds is a modern classic that should be on must-read lists for years to come.
About Kevin Powers
Kevin Powers was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. He graduated from Virgina 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. The Yellow Birds is his first novel.
The book has been highly acclaimed across the globe by journalists and a plethora of famous authors; you can find all the rave reviews on Kevin's official website.
Hodder has 50 copies of The Yellow Birds to give to Mumsnetters. For the chance to claim one simply fill in the form below. We'll post on the thread when all the copies have gone.
Book club discussion: Tuesday 30 July, 9-10pm
We are thrilled that Kevin will be answering questions about The Yellow Birds, his prizes and his writing career on Tuesday 30 July, 9-10pm. So please feel free to discuss the book here throughout the month, and then come and chat to Kevin on Tue 30 July. Look forward to seeing you all there.
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