We Are All Birds of UgandaWe

Hafsa Zayyan

Winner of the Merky Books New Writers’ Prize

‘You can’t stop birds from flying, can you, Sameer? They go where they will…’

1960s Uganda. Hasan is struggling to run his family business following the sudden death of his wife. Just as he begins to see a way forward, a new regime seizes power, and a wave of rising prejudice threatens to sweep away everything he has built.

Present-day London. Sameer, a young high-flying lawyer, senses an emptiness in what he thought was the life of his dreams. Called back to his family home by an unexpected tragedy, Sameer begins to find the missing pieces of himself not in his future plans, but in a past he never knew.

Moving between two continents over a troubled century, We Are All Birds of Uganda is an immensely resonant novel that explores racial tensions, generational divides and what it means to belong.

It is the first work of fiction by Hafsa Zayyan, co-winner of the inaugural #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize, and one of the most exciting young novelists of today.

Media Reviews

Rightfully tipped for greatness. – Sunday Times

Unflinchingly honest but tempered by its humanity, this is a novel for our times… – iPaper

An extremely readable and fascinating dual narrative about the expulsion of East African Ugandans under Idi Amin in the 70s and the journey taken by Sameer, born in modern day Leicester, to understand his familial legacy. – Pandora Sykes

[A] sprawling and epic dual narrative, spoke of her lived experience, but that which she’d seldom seen in the books she read: a story of cross-generational divides, and being both Black and South Asian … It’s woven together with gentle urgency; sensitive and with a rare perspective on how our mixed race backgrounds can help form feelings of both internal power and conflict.’ – i-D Magazine

The issues and subjects it takes on are big … All are explored with great intelligence and sensitivity … Zayyan’s writing finds the lightness and fluency of a much more experienced novelist … It is an epic novel in terms of historical, geographic, and cultural scope. It has much to recommend it: the tone, the structure, the ambition, and the clarity that enables the story to cover so much ground without ever becoming confused or lost during its 360-pages. – BBC News

A remarkably accomplished, polished debut. – Malorie Blackman