Songbirds: A Novel (Hardcover)
**Book listings on our website do not always reflect the current availability of books on our store shelves. Check a book's in-store availability above the "add to cart" button. Or to be certain that a book you've found on our website is also here on our shelves, feel free to call us at 615-953-2243**
On Cyprus, Petra's nanny and maid, Nisha, suddenly goes missing. When authorities decide the case isn't worth their time, Petra and Nisha's lover, Yiannis, decide to find the truth themselves. What follows is a poignant look at the struggles of migrant domestic workers and their often perfunctory relationships with their employers. Don't miss the author's note at the end!— Sarah
From the prize-winning author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo comes Songbirds, a stunning novel about the disappearance of a Sri Lankan domestic worker and how the most vulnerable people find their voices.
Living on the island of Cyprus, Nisha is far from her native Sri Lanka. Though she longs to return home, she knows that working as a “maid” for a wealthy widow is the only way to earn enough to support her daughter, left behind to be raised by relatives.
Yiannis is a poacher, trapping the tiny protected songbirds that stop in Cyprus as they migrate each year from Africa to Europe and selling them on the illegal market. He dreams of finding a new way of life, and of marrying Nisha.
But one night, Nisha makes dinner, an aromatic dahl curry, for the family who pays her: Petra and her daughter Aliki. Then, after she cleans the kitchen and tucks Aliki into bed, Nisha goes out on a mysterious errand, and vanishes.
When the police refuse to pursue the case, Petra takes on the investigation herself, a path that leads her to Nisha’s friends—other workers in the neighborhood—and to the darker side of a migrant’s life, where impossible choices leave them vulnerable, captive, and worse.
Inspired by the real-life disappearance of domestic workers in Cyprus, Christy Lefteri has crafted a poignant, deeply empathetic narrative of the human stories behind the headlines. With infinite tenderness and skill, Songbirds offers a triumphant story of the fight for truth and justice, and of women reclaiming their lost voices.
“A beautiful novel . . . Songbirds will break your heart and open your eyes.”—Heather Morris, author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz
“Like the vulnerable songbirds trapped in mist nets, Christy Lefteri’s characters—women who leave foreign lands to work abroad and send money back home—broke my heart and kept me turning the pages of her gorgeous novel well into the night.”—Alka Joshi, author of The Henna Artist and The Secret Keeper of Jaipur
“I loved this tender, moving story about the powerful chord that binds mothers to daughters, about those we fail to see and protect. The humanity in Songbirds is compelling, tinged with sadness, delicately delivered with urgency. I finished this book and could not stop thinking about Nisha. It is stunning and beautiful, a magnificent achievement.”—Abi Daré, author of The Girl with the Louding Voice
“This thought-provoking novel of love, loss, and redemption is thoroughly sublime.”—Caroline Montague, author of An Italian Affair
“Lefteri is an astonishing weaver of stories that speak to the world with humor and compassion. She is imaginatively daring as she is socially responsible in a style that sustains a compelling narrative from start to end and that kept me on the edge.”—Daljit Nagra, author of British Museum
“Lefteri deftly weaves Yiannis’s pain at the loss of his love with Petra’s growing realizations about her own culture and Aliki’s attachment to her missing caretaker. Songbirds is quietly urgent in its treatment of Nicosia’s maids, thoughtful, compassionate and lyrical in its descriptions. Set in the old capital city of Cyprus, this is a beautiful, sad novel about human relationships and hard choices, who is seen and unseen.”—Shelf Awareness (starred review)
“[Songbirds’s] characters are engaging and its story moving. This well-crafted novel puts a poignantly human face on often invisible migrant workers.”—Kirkus Reviews
“An aura of menace pervades this unflinching tale of loss and devotion.”—Booklist
“The novel is beautifully written and moving. Lefteri’s fans won’t be disappointed.”—Publishers Weekly