Book Review – ‘The Birds They Sang’ by Stanislaw Lubienski

I don’t normally dive straight in with a book review suggesting that you buy a copy and read the book in question, but this is one of those occasions. Stanislaw Lubienski has written one of those rare books that feels like it will be a future classic. I am fairly inexperienced when it comes to nature writing from Eastern Europe but this was a fantastic introduction. Lubienski combines personal experiences with exploration of nature, culture, ornithology and history, to create a very readable, engaging book.

Lubienski first observed birds through soviet binoculars as a boy and then later took trips to Hungary, Scandinavia and the Danube delta to develop his passion. The book engages readers with stories of some of the closest bird-human interactions, from a German POW camp to Billy and Kes in A Kestrel for a Knave. 

It is no wonder that the book won the readers’ vote for the Nike Award, Poland’s most prestigious literary prize. A a time when the birds are able to reclaim the skies as their own, we would do well to explore the ideas presented in Lubienski’s book, and remember our connections with nature and our responsibilities for living within it and as part of it.

I hope that you will enjoy this book as much as I did; highly recommended.

The book was translated to English by Bill Johnston

Many thanks to Elizabeth Briggs and Saqi Books for sending me an advance copy of the book which was published on 2nd April 2020.

It is published by The Westbourne Press and was first published in Polish by Wydawnictwo Czarne in 2016.

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