Winner of the PEN Translation Prize
"Pondering revolutionary Cuba, the Berlin Wall, and the caves of Cappadocia, these essays explore themes of memory, war, movement, and home."—The New Yorker
"A thoughtful, roving meditation on migration, language, and home."—Publishers Weekly
In her prize-winning debut, Mexican essayist Mariana Oliver trains her gaze on migration in its many forms, moving between real cities and other more inaccessible territories: language, memory, pain, desire, and the body. With an abiding curiosity and poetic ease, Oliver leads us through the underground city of Cappadocia, explores the vicissitudes of a Berlin marked by historical fracture, recalls a shocking childhood exodus, and recreates the intimacy of the spaces we inhabit. Blending criticism, reportage, and a travel writing all her own, Oliver presents a brilliant collection of essays that asks us what it means to leave the familiar behind and make the unfamiliar our own.
"Migratory Birds is sensitive and illuminating... a decidedly feminist work, highlighting the vulnerabilities of women—overworked, underappreciated—but also their empowering journeys and choices. Without denying the violence of history, Migratory Birds firmly establishes the emancipating power of dreams and the imagination."—Farah Abdessamad, Los Angeles Review of Books
"Oliver debuts with a thoughtful, roving meditation on migration, language, and home. In intimate pieces studded with references to history and literature, Oliver ponders such topics as the tug of home and the consequences of dislocation... Fans of lyrical essays will enjoy this literary global odyssey."—Publishers Weekly
"Essays haunted by echoes and shadows... In the third entry of the publisher’s Undelivered Lectures series, Mexican-born essayist Oliver debuts with a collection of 10 graceful pieces that include meditations on place, language, exile, and memory."—Kirkus Reviews
"Mariana Oliver touches down in various times and places, showing how people described their difficulties there and then, and revealing what changes in language arose from these events. From Normandy to Neverland, the through line of this excellent collection is movement, and the essays meander around history in an appealing way... Part memoir, part history, and part travelogue, Migratory Birds explores the vicissitudes of language.”—Foreword Reviews, Starred Review