We Are All Birds of Uganda by Hafsa Zayyan is such a gripping book about family history, culture and moving between two countries: The UK and Uganda.
The protagonist Sameer works for a law firm and is in the midst of a quarter-life crisis, caught up between a busy career and his relationship with his parents. As a business newcomer and working in the City myself (obviously WFH for nearly a year now though), as well as growing up with my parents – who hold quite traditional values – back in Japan, his struggles felt very familiar to me. The author captured these kinds of ‘moment’ very vividly; those times when a high-flying job in the city feels like *everything* whereas your parents back in the countryside are ‘remote’ in every sense of the word. In addition to this, the many scenes in the novel portraying microaggressions reminded me of so many similar incidents I’ve observed in the past. These are often things that are unfortunately very difficult to discuss openly in the real-life world of work, so it’s wonderful how accurately this book pointed these moments out.
Likewise, it was wonderful to read Sameer’s exploration of his own identity. Visiting Uganda, hoping to gain a deeper understanding of both his family and himself – but finding internal conflicts solved and unsolved – this never-ending thought process made me realise how important and difficult it is to establish who one’s own identity really is.
Running in parallel with Sameer’s story, this book also takes you to Uganda in the 1960s, through his ancestor Hassan’s letters. This historical aspect was something I was definitely not fully aware of, so was intrigued to find out more about it.
Atmospheric descriptions of the scenery and cuisine in Uganda really enhanced the book in addition to its central dramatic family saga. I’d love to visit the country myself one day.
The book handles tough, weighty topics such as history, immigration, religion, discrimination and identity with a highly readable, beautiful tone of voice. I was left with the feeling that this was truly a special book and one which I was glad to have got the opportunity to spend time with!
「We Are All Birds of Uganda」は、イギリスとウガンダを舞台に、家族の歴史について移民、政治、宗教、差別、アイデンティティ等のトピックを交えながら描く物語。
More reviews available on my book blog Intermission Ambience
書評ブログの Intermission Ambience にも本のレビューを書いています。あわせてぜひご覧ください！