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The Bird Tattoo
Table of Contents
About The Book
Shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.
Helen is a young Yazidi woman, living with her family in a mountain village in Sinjar, northern Iraq. One day she finds a local bird caught in a trap, and frees it, just as the trapper, Elias, returns. At first angry, he soon sees the error of his ways and vows never to keep a bird captive again.
Helen and Elias fall deeply in love, marry and start a family in Sinjar. The village has seemed to stand apart from time, protected by the mountains and too small to attract much political notice. But their happy existence is suddenly shattered when Elias, a journalist, goes missing. A brutal organization is sweeping over the land, infiltrating even the remotest corners, its members cloaking their violence in religious devotion. Helen’s search for her husband results in her own captivity and enslavement.
She eventually escapes her captors and is reunited with some of her family. But her life is forever changed. Elias remains missing and her sons, now young recruits to the organization, are like strangers. Will she find harmony and happiness again?
For readers of Elif Shafak, Samar Yazbek's Planet of Clay, or Ahmed Saadawi's Frankenstein in Baghdad, Dunya Mikhail's The Bird Tattoo chronicles a world of great upheaval, love and loss, beauty and horror, and will stay in readers’ minds long after the last page.
- Publisher: Pegasus Books (December 6, 2022)
- Length: 304 pages
- ISBN13: 9781639362790
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Raves and Reviews
“Iraqi American poet and journalist Mikhail revisits in this frank and wrenching novel the subject of The Beekeeper, her nonfiction narrative about the impact of Daesh, the name for ISIS, on the Yazidi religious minority of northern Iraq. Mikhail’s sympathetic and fast-moving story of ordinary life and its violent disruption makes for a moving love letter to the Yazidi.”
Praise for Dunya Mikhail
"A searing portrait of courage."
– New York Times Book Review
"Remarkable. A child’s perspective mingles freely with the poet’s mature voice, both baffled by the paradoxes of so much beauty and so much destruction."—
– Ron Charles, The Washington Post
"A powerful reminder."
– Financial Times
"A visceral account of the outskirts of modern day Iraq. Powerful and heartbreaking, this work lets the survivors tell their stories and highlights the courage of those risking their lives to rescue others."
– Publishers Weekly
"Dunya Mikhail, award-winning poet, has gathered first-person stories from those who survived [an] unthinkable ordeal, as well as those who worked tirelessly to rescue them. We should all read it."—
– Peter Stanford, The Observer
"Shakespeare would have enjoyed the poetry of Dunya Mikhail, who has spoken of love as a response to a war-torn world–an aesthetic, a value, and a practice."
– Elizabeth Toohey, Christian Science Monitor
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