WINNER OF THE COSTA FIRST NOVEL AWARD, BY THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE LANGUAGE OF KINDNESS AND THE COURAGE TO CARE
'Everything changed after Mama found Father lying on top of another woman.'
Blessing and her brother Ezikiel adore their larger-than-life father, their glamorous mother and their comfortable life in Lagos. But all that changes when their father leaves them for another woman. Their mother is fired from her job at the Royal Imperial Hotel - only married women can work there - and soon they have to quit their air-conditioned apartment to go and live with their grandparents in a compound in the Niger Delta.
Adapting to life with a poor countryside family is a shock beyond measure after their privileged upbringing in Lagos. Told in Blessing's own beguiling voice, Tiny Sunbirds Far Away shows how some families can survive almost anything. At times hilarious, always poignant, occasionally tragic, it is peopled with characters you will never forget.
In Watson's impressive debut, 12-year-old Blessing is uprooted from her suburban Lagos, Nigeria, life when her mother Timi catches their father with another woman and moves Blessing and her brother, Ezikiel, to the outskirts of the dangerous, oil-rich Niger delta. The proximity to the oil fields, which erupt often in smoke, oil, and violence, exacerbates Ezikiel's poor health, and it's not long before a stray bullet sends him to the hospital. He survives, and takes up wandering the "evil forest" bush, home of the Sibeye boys, who kidnap oil workers and eat fireflies for strength. When Timi falls for a white oil worker, the Sibeyes become interested. Ezikiel takes up with them, discarding his dreams of becoming a doctor even as Blessing begins to help deliver babies, which gives her the confidence to take a stand against the genital mutilation that midwifes traditionally perform. Watson's nuanced portrayal of daily life in Nigeria is peopled with flawed but tenacious characters who fight not only for survival but for dignity. Blessing is a wonderful narrator whose vivid impressions enliven Watson's sensual prose.