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Radio 2 Book Club - We Are All Birds of Uganda

The next book to be featured on the Radio 2 Book Club with Steve Wright will be We Are All Birds of Uganda, the moving literary debut novel by Hafsa Zayyan. The book was released on 21 January and Hafsa will be on the show on Wednesday 3 March.

We have the chance for you to win 10 copies of this fantastic novel for your reading group! Please enter by Friday 12 March.

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We have an exclusive extract available for you to read. We also have some discussion questions for your group to use.

We Are All Birds of Uganda

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 and several generations over a troubled century, We Are All Birds of Uganda is a multi-layered, moving and immensely resonant novel of love, loss, and what it means to find home.

Selection panel review

The book was selected with the help of a panel of library staff from across the UK. Our readers loved We Are All Birds of Uganda – here are some of their comments:

“I loved this – a thoroughly engaging story of identity and belonging. The chapters switch between Sameer, an up-and-coming City lawyer in contemporary London, and Hasan, writing letters to his dead wife in 1960s Uganda. The themes of family expectation, community and assimilation permeate both and the characters are so skilfully drawn you’re instantly sucked in to their world. A great read – captivating and easily accessible.”

“I loved this book. I found myself gripped from the very first chapter and I was instantly connected to the characters. I found it very interesting to learn and read about cultures I am not familiar with. It really opened my eye to the racism that still occurs throughout the world and at many points I was shocked by how widespread this is happening. I thought this was a brilliant book about friendship and how love can overcome barriers of culture and religion through friendship and marriage. An excellent read with many talking points for a book group.”

“I really enjoyed this book; it is very emotive and engrossing. The author really paints a very vivid picture and all her characters are believable and interesting – I really wanted to know all their stories. The writing is really finely nuanced and very easy to engage with. It is also a very ambitious book spanning generations, different countries and cultures. Despite this it was really easy to follow the time shifts in the narrative. There are also plenty of themes such as identity, race, love, loss and family ties to discuss so a perfect book group book.”

About the author

Hafsa Zayyan is a writer and dispute resolution lawyer based in London. She won the inaugural #Merky Book New Writers’ Prize in 2019. We Are All Birds of Uganda is her debut novel, inspired by the mixed background from which she hails. She studied Law at the University of Cambridge and holds a masters’ degree from the University of Oxford.

A word from Hafsa

“It’s such a privilege and an honour to be selected by the BBC and Reading Agency for the Radio 2 Book Club – I can’t thank the panel of readers enough. Like many authors, I grew up with my head in a book, exploring the world from the comfort of my bed through the lens of words. It was after I read Matilda that I aspired to do like her and get through every book in the children’s section of my local library – and then some more! We Are All Birds of Uganda is my debut novel and it is surreal, slightly terrifying and just incredible to imagine others reaching for it in a library – like the books that transported me to other worlds and immersed me deep in their stories, I hope that readers of my book can find some resonance and empathy in the world I have created.”

Get involved

Tune in to Steve Wright in the Afternoon on Wednesday 3 March to hear a live interview with Hafsa.

Have you read We Are All Birds of Uganda? You can share your thoughts with us on Twitter using #R2BookClub and tagging @MerkyBooks.

Planning to buy We Are All Birds of Uganda for your group? Buy books from Hive and support The Reading Agency and local bookshops at no extra cost to you.

Want to make sure you get the latest news? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

You can join the Radio 2 Book Club Facebook group, and also follow Jo Whiley on Twitter.


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