book cover of Tail of the Blue Bird

Tail of the Blue Bird

(2009)
A novel by

 
 
A woman spots a stunning blue-headed bird at the edge of a Ghanaian village follows it.

Sonokrom is a place that has not changed for hundreds of years; the men and women speak the language of the forest, drink aphrodisiacs with their palm wine and commune with the spirits of their ancestors. However, the woman's intrusion and ensuing events lead to an invasion from Accra, the capital city, spearheaded by Kayo; a young forensic pathologist convinced that scientific logic can shatter even the most inexplicable of mysteries.

But as events in the village become more and more incomprehensible, Kayo and his sidekick, Constable Garba are drawn into a world where storytelling is more powerful than any scientific explanation.

Tail of the Blue Bird is a poetic fable, at once unsettling and heart-warmingly funny, that exemplifies the futility of trying to categorise Africa, reminding us that the boundaries of truth have never been clear cut.

One of the most curious attractions of Tail of the Blue Bird is its privileging of Ghanaian languages over EnglishaAE In terms of content, the book marks a moment in time when the postcolonial novel is leaving the stage; there is no 'apology' in this narrative, nor is there any great sense of problematic opposites. Things in this book are very much 'as they are...' It would be easy to state that the demonstrative differences of rural versus metropolis, East versus West, and rational versus ethereal are the basic tenets of this book, but that would be doing this publication an injustice. Tail of the Blue Bird reminds us that, although events may be rationalized, explained as 'fate,' or accepted as the unknown doings of ethereal forces, the universal fact remains that as humans, we all pass through them, live and endure them; whatever our cultural or philosophical stance, we survive life's events to greater or lesser degrees. --Emma Dawson, World Literature Today

This is a charming, kindhearted, and profound first novel by Parkes, an acclaimed poet from Ghana. With great depth and intelligence, Parkes brings this story about traditional Ghanaian wisdom and spirituality beautifully to life. Structured like a detective story, the novel begins with the disturbing discovery of what may be human remains in the hut of a man in a remote country village. Set against a traditional world of elders and ancient wisdom is the modern world of forensic science, embodied by an ambitious police chief, P.J. Donkor, who is a fan of American forensic television shows like Law & Order and CSI. Donkor summons a young forensic expert, Kayo, to explain what has been found in the village. The novel turns out to be a modern-day fable about living in a world rich with mystery and spiritual energy. By the end, Kayo begins to believe that "the real truth, like love, was beyond the reach of scientific explication." VERDICT Enthusiastically recommended for all readers of literary fiction. - Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community Coll., CT, Library Journal

This was a truly beautiful novel. Parkes' skill as a poet is quite apparent within the symmetry of his writing. It is also apparent that he has (spiritually) consorted with the Old Masters Amos Tutuola and D.O. Fagunwa. He has inherited the vision of the Noveau Masters Wole Soyinka, Ben Okri, and Syl Cheney-Coker too. This work is an exceptional tool for teaching philosophy, culture, and ethnology. And the reader becomes totally immersed in the world that the writer creates. One feels sad that the journey comes to an end on the last page of verse. --Rosetta Codling, The Examiner


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Used availability for Nii Ayikwei Parkes's Tail of the Blue Bird

Paperback Editions

January 2011 : USA Paperback
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Title: Tail of the Blue Bird
Author(s): Nii Ayikwei Parkes
ISBN: 0-9818584-3-0 / 978-0-9818584-3-2 (USA edition)
Publisher: flipped eye publishing
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


June 2010 : UK Paperback
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Title: Tail of the Blue Bird
Author(s): Nii Ayikwei Parkes
ISBN: 0-09-952612-3 / 978-0-09-952612-4 (UK edition)
Publisher: Vintage
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


June 2009 : UK Paperback
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Title: Tail of the Blue Bird
Author(s): Nii Ayikwei Parkes
ISBN: 0-224-08574-3 / 978-0-224-08574-8 (UK edition)
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


Kindle Editions

March 2011 : Canada, UK Kindle edition
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Title: Tail of the Blue Bird
Author(s): Nii Ayikwei Parkes
Publisher: Vintage Digital
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


December 2010 : USA Kindle edition
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Title: Tail of the Blue Bird
Author(s): Nii Ayikwei Parkes
Publisher: flipped eye publishing
Availability: Amazon