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Where The Birds Don’t Fly by David Farrell


In his impressive new novel Where the Birds Don't Fly, David Farrell continues the compelling saga of the Wilde family, following their incredible journey from Africa to start afresh in New Zealand. With his remarkable storytelling style and profound insights into the immigrant experience, Farrell crafts a relatable narrative that resonates with both universal truths and intensely personal struggles.


The novel picks up from Farrell's acclaimed debut Chameleon, as the Wildes, led by Rory, make the wrenching decision to leave their tumultuous homeland behind. From the outset, Farrell immerses readers in the disorienting reality of upheaval, capturing the obstacles and challenges involved in navigating a new land's customs, idioms, and cultural nuances.


Yet Farrell's true narrative quality lies in his ability to mine the depths of the human experience, peeling back the layers of what it means to start over, to forge a sense of belonging in a place that is at once foreign and achingly familiar. The Wildes' quest for acceptance becomes a profound meditation on resilience, as they confront the harsh realities of being ‘othered’ and the seductive attraction of retreating into insular communities that resist change.


Farrell's characters are richly drawn and utterly compelling, their struggles rendered with empathy and nuance. The bond that develops between Rory and his Māori connection Tāne is a particular highlight, as the two men uncover shared histories of colonisation and grapple with the complex legacies of immigration on indigenous populations. Their relationship serves as a potent reminder that the search for belonging is a universal human yearning that transcends borders and cultures.


Beneath the compelling storyline, the novel's emotional resonance is Farrell's well-chosen prose, which captures the inherent poetry almost hard-baked into the New Zealand landscape. His descriptions of the country's flightless bird species are particularly evocative, serving as a poignant metaphor for the Wildes' own quest for refuge and freedom. In Farrell's hands, the natural world becomes a mirror for the characters' inner lives, reflecting their hopes, fears, and indomitable spirits.


Where the Birds Don't Fly is a powerful testament to the human capacity for resilience and adaptation. Farrell's exploration of the challenges faced by immigrants and marginalised communities is tempered by an abiding sense of hope – a belief that, even in the face of adversity, connection and understanding are always within reach.


With its nuanced character portraits, richly atmospheric settings, and profound emotional depths, this novel cements Farrell's status as a writer of rare talent and insight. Where the Birds Don't Fly is a captivating, immersive reading experience that will stay in the hearts and minds of readers long after the final page.


Farrell invites us to embark on an unmatched journey of self-discovery, one that ultimately affirms the unifying power of our shared humanity.


Reviewer: Chris Reed

Kingsley Publishers


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