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Category: Fiction / General
Publication date: 6 March 2014
Number of pages: 528
Prizes: Winner of Whitaker Gold Book Award 2001.
Winner of Enid McLeod Literary Award 1993.
Runner-up for The BBC Big Read Top 21 2003.
Runner-up for The BBC Big Read Top 100 2003.
Shortlisted for BBC Big Read Top 100 2003.
Set before and during the great war, Birdsong captures the drama of that era on both a national and a personal scale. It is the story of Stephen, a young Englishman, who arrives in Amiens in 1910. Over the course of the novel he suffers a series of traumatic experiences, from the clandestine love affair that tears apart the family with whom he lives, to the unprecedented experiences of the war itself.
Curiously, it is the fighting in World War I more than World War II that resonates in the imagination of contemporary writers. Its now unimaginable and unimaginative killing fields, commemorated by the rows of simple white crosses, reverberates now as much as ever. Birdsong is possibly the finest example of this cross-fertilization, pipping Pat Barker and Geoff Dyer to the post. After beginning in Amiens, France, in 1910, the action of this much-praised novel shifts between the French battlefields of the First World War and suburban England in the late 1970s. It is both a passionate love story and a tale of camaraderie and isolation in war. (Kirkus UK)
What the papers say:
"An amazing book - I have read it and re-read it and can think of no other novel for many, many years that has so moved me or stimulated in me so much reflection on the human spirit" -- Quentin Crewe Daily Mail 20031022 "This is literature at its very best: a book with the power to reveal the unimagined, so that one's life is set in a changed context. I urge you to read it" -- Nigel Watts Time Out 20031022 "So powerful is this recreated past that you long to call Birdsong perfect" -- Sue Gee The Times 20031022 "With Birdsong Faulks has produced a mesmerizing story of love and war... This book is so powerful that as I finished it I turned to the front to start again" -- Andrew James Sunday Express 20031022 "An overpowering and beautiful novel... Ambitious, outrageous, poignant, sleep-disturbing, Birdsong is not a perfect novel, just a great one" -- Simon Schama New Yorker 20031022
Sebastian Faulks was born and brought up in Newbury, Berkshire. He worked in journalism before starting to write books. He is best known for the French trilogy, The Girl at the Lion d'Or, Birdsong and Charlotte Gray (1989-1997) and is also the author of a triple biography, The Fatal Englishman (1996); a small book of literary parodies, Pistache (2006); and the novels Human Traces (2005) and Engleby (2007). He lives in London with his wife and their three children.
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