Irish novelist Soula Emmanuel’s debut novel is an intimate sprawl of memory, migration, and queer desire—charting the messy layers of love and loss that constitute a life.
Phoebe Forde has a new home, a new name, and is newly thirty. An Irish transplant and PhD candidate, she’s overeducated and underpaid, but finally settling into her new life in Copenhagen. Almost three years into her gender transition, Phoebe has learned to move through the world carefully, savoring small moments of joy. After all, a woman without a past can be anyone she wants. But an unexpected visit from her ex-girlfriend Grace brings back memories of Dublin and the life she thought she’d left behind. Over the course of a weekend, their romance rekindles into something sweet and radically unfamiliar as Grace helps Phoebe navigate the jagged edges of nostalgia and hope.
Written with wit and warmth, Wild Geese is a tale of dislocations and relocations, encounters, and accidents: a novel of past lives, messy feelings, and the desire to start afresh.
“Wild Geese is a sensitive, thoughtful novel about personal identity, the loss of illusions, and growth into love and wholeness.” —Foreword Reviews, starred review
“Bittersweet and meandering in the best way, this is fiction worth lingering over.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Wild Geese is proof that Soula is the most exciting new voice in Irish writing.” —i-D
“A lyrical and bittersweet meditation on memory and trans identity set over the course of one weekend… This is one to savor.” —Publishers Weekly
“A tale of migrating like the majestic honking birds in the sky.” —Independent Book Review
“Wild Geese is heartfelt, thought-provoking and beautifully crafted. Soula Emmanuel is a phenomenal talent.” —Laura Kay, author of The Split
“Phoebe Forde, an Irish trans woman living in Scandinavia, illustrates with insight, candor and wit, the chrysalis of loneliness, in which she, and others perhaps, find themselves living. I am reminded that some women still have to leave Ireland for the chance to become themselves. Wild Geese is an intimate and deeply affecting portrait. Destined to be a classic of migrant literature.” —Carmel McMahon, author of In Ordinary Time
“Soula Emmanuel’s prose is breathtaking: searingly sharp, deliciously funny, profound. Wild Geese is a beautiful and devastating read. An extraordinary debut. I loved this deeply intelligent and emotionally powerful novel.” —Danielle McLaughlin, author of The Art of Falling
“Wild Geese is small and amazingly dense, a virtuosic miniature painted with a single hair brush under a magnifying glass, crammed implausibly full of lyricism, jokes, passionate cries, questionable aphorisms, and savagely well-observed dialogue. The novel is also doing something really unusual: in a political context of rising transphobia, and amid a trans cultural scene that reacts with increasing separatism, it takes frighteningly seriously the question of the relations between trans and cis women, both in our shared womanhood, and through our very real differences. In vindicating the possibility that we might love and help each other, despite everything, Wild Geese attains a hard-won, triumphant generosity.” —Cat Fitzpatrick, author of The Call-Out: A Novel in Rhyme
“In gorgeous, poignant prose, Soula Emmanuel’s phenomenal debut brings us the tangled life of Phoebe as she receives an unexpected visit from an ex-girlfriend, stirring ghosts from the past and hauntings of the present. Intimate and lit up from the inside, Wild Geese moves through a cosmology of intimacies with incredible preciseness, humor, and lyricism. A terrific read that looks at a trans experience unflinchingly, distilling the mundane life of love and loss, Wild Geese is sassy, cataclysmic, and full of life.” —Julián Delgado Lopera, author of Fiebre Tropical: A Novel
“I am so here for this fantasy of reconciliation between ex-lovers thrown together for a rich and fleeting weekend of museum snark, strap-on pranks, and sumptuous European breakfasts. I am here for this investigation of different womanhoods, trans and cis, and for this poetic look back at the terra incognita of our pretranssexual twenties. And I am here for this conjuration of real, messy friendship and its spaces of complicated trust. I am here for Wild Geese.” —Jeanne Thornton, author of Summer Fun