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Extended Audio Sample Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away: A Novel, by Christie Watson Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,205 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Christie Watson Narrator: Claudia Alick Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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When their mother catches their father with another woman, twelve-year-old Blessing and her fourteen-year-old brother, Ezikiel, are forced to leave their comfortable home in Lagos for the village of Warri in the Niger Delta to live with their mother’s family. Without running water or electricity, Warri is at first a nightmare for Blessing. Her mother is gone all day and works suspiciously late into the night to pay the children’s school fees. Her brother, once a promising student, seems to be falling increasingly under the influence of a group of violent local teenage boys calling themselves freedom fighters. Her grandfather, a kind if misguided man, is trying on Islam as his new religion of choice and is even considering the possibility of bringing in a second wife.

But Blessing’s grandmother, wise and practical, soon becomes a beloved mentor, teaching Blessing the ways of the midwife in rural Nigeria. Blessing is exposed to the horrors of genital mutilation and the devastation wrought on the environment by British and American oil companies. As Warri comes to feel like home, Blessing becomes increasingly aware of the threats to its safety, both from its unshakable but dangerous traditions and from the relentless carelessness of the modern world. Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away is the witty and beautifully written story of one family’s attempt to survive a new life they could never have imagined, struggling to find a deeper sense of identity along the way.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “An excellent novel. It takes the reader deep into the reality of ordinary life in Nigeria and is also funny, moving, and politically alert.”

    Giles Foden, award-winning author of The Last King of Scotland

  • “Blessing’s is a distinctive voice, at once credulous and curious…The same might be said of Watson herself; her descriptions of character and place are beautifully observed. A promising new talent.”

    Independent (London)

  • “It’s a profound shock to find themselves in terrible poverty, without clean water or electricity and subject to raids by the terrifying ‘Area boys’…Yet this is not a bleak book: there is humor and love, especially in the growing relationship between Blessing and her grandmother, a traditional midwife. Absorbing and passionate.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “Christie Watson’s debut novel, set in the troubled Niger Delta, does what fiction does best: it captures place and characters so well that you feel you are also there. It is sincere, it is powerfully written, and it deserves to be read.”

    Helon Habila, award-winning author of Oil on Water

  • “Watson has written an immensely absorbing novel. It is both heart wrenching and consoling.”

    Chika Unigwe, author of On Black Sisters Street

  • “A sure-footed debut narrated by twelve-year-old Blessing, a girl growing up too fast in the troubled Niger Delta.”


  • “A fascinating, poignant story that had me laughing in places and deeply moved in others.”

    Ike Anya, Nigerian public-health physician and writer

  • “The gripping, triumphant tale of a girl who chooses life over loss, in a sweet but savage world where oil is bled from the earth.”

    Lola Shoneyin, author of The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

  • “Lyrical and beautifully drawn, a poignant coming-of-age tale, set in an Africa few readers will have experienced. A must-read.”

    Lesley Lokko, author of SundownersSaffron Skies, and Bitter Chocolate

  • “So good I had to lie down after reading it.”

    Trezza Azzopardi, author of The Song House

  • “[An] assured, absorbing first novel…Watson’s cleanly told coming-of-age story generates real narrative momentum.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “[An] impressive debut…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.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Alick lives up to Watson’s lyrical prose and delivers a gripping presentation of life amid war as well as a celebration of the will to survive.”


  • “Confronting issues of race, class, and religion, this work ponders idealistic ignorance in a way that is reminiscent of Chinua Achebe’s No Longer at Ease. Watson’s story will appeal to readers of African and literary fiction.”

    Library Journal

  • “Through the lens of young girl’s coming-of-age, this breakthrough novel views the politics of contemporary Nigeria, portraying the clash between traditional and modern as it affects one extended family.”


  • “A first novel that knows how to tell a story, concocting a voice that lures us. Perfect pitch is not reserved for musicians; some novelists have it, too. From the very first page of her very first book, Christie Watson proves she possesses it, creating a voice that tells a tale we can’t put down.”

    Barnes and Noble, editorial review

  • “[An] absorbing first novel, told through the eyes of the bright and observant Blessing…A memorable debut novel about a Nigerian girl’s coming of age.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • Winner of the Costa Book Award Costa Book Award for First Novel
  • Selected for the June 2011 Indie Next List

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jane | 2/13/2014

    " Wonderful book - tough subject to read but very interesting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Judith | 2/12/2014

    " A good read (!) - really interesting to learn about life in Nigeria, and just how bad it can be. It's not a depressing read though, just informative and worth reading! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Bethany Carlson | 1/22/2014

    " What an astounding story of learning strength through many challenges. It is very simply told but the events do not need flowery descriptions to be vivid and compelling. This is a coming of age story in circumstances that often seem impossible. But there is a window of light that opens in every dark time to create a tale that is ultimately about overcoming. I feel like I have visited an Ijaw village outside of Lagos in Nigeria, and Tiny Sunbirds Far Away is definitely a trip I would recommend. Just pack some Kleenex for the last 50 pages. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Judy Brunner | 1/20/2014

    " I really liked this book. It was completely like any other book I've read so far. Fascinating detail of life in poor Africa, and I was really surprised that it had been written by a white girl. I wonder how she got all the wonderful details of everyday life. I also liked the dialogue of the different characters. Nice to have something completely original and unusual to read for a change. "

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