Hearing Birds Fly by Louisa Waugh
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Hearing Birds Fly
By Louisa Waugh

Hearing Birds Fly

A Year in a Mongolian Village

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Format: Paperback

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Hearing Birds Fly by Louisa Waugh

Book Awards

  • Winner of Ondaatje Prize 2004.
  • Shortlisted for Thomas Cook Travel Book Award 2004.

Book Description

HEARING BIRDS FLY is Louisa Waugh's passionately written account of her time in a remote Mongolian village. Frustrated by the increasingly bland character of the capital city of Ulan Bator, she yearned for the real Mongolia and got the chance when she was summoned by the village head to go to Tsengel far away in the west, near the Kazakh border. Her story completely transports the reader to feel the glacial cold and to see the wonders of the Seven Kings as they steadily emerge from the horizon. Through her we sense their trials as well as their joys, rivalries and even hostilities, many of which the author shared or knew about. Her time in the village was marked by coming to terms with the harshness of climate and also by how she faced up to new feelings towards the treatment of animals, death, solitude and real loneliness, and the constant struggle to censor her reactions as an outsider. Above all, Louisa Waugh involves us with the locals' lives in such a way that we come to know them and care for their fates.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780349115801
ISBN-10: 034911580X
Format: Paperback
(156mm x 199mm x 20mm)
Pages: 288
Imprint: Abacus
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 23-Jan-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions...


Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » The steppe of north-west Mongolia is one of the harshest and most isolated places on the face of the earth. The ravaged terrain is prone to freezing winds, dust storms, snowdrifts and torrential rains. The summer is short and labour-intensive, the winter lengthy, dangerous and difficult. No surprise, then, that few tourists choose to visit this frozen moonscape and that even fewer stay for more than the time it takes to pass through. Even for the seasoned traveller, it is one of the most inhospitable and unforgiving places imaginable. After teaching English for two years in Ulan Batar Louisa Waugh decided to take up a post in Tsengel, a village in the north-western corner of Mongolia near the borders of Russia and China. This is the heartfelt account of this young woman's extraordinary time amongst the natives of this remote outpost, and it is full of the joys and hardships experienced by a close-knit community whose precarious existence is constantly under threat. Waugh lives as the locals do, with no Western luxuries or special privileges. With no gas, electricity or running water, her most pressing concern is coping through the winter months, and she discovers it's a full-time job simply keeping herself clothed, fed and warm. Although at times the writing is a little prosaic and workmanlike, there's enough fascinating material here to keep the pages turning. The sheer difficulty of survival accounts for most of this work, and it's stunning to realize that, in the 21st century, people still eke out a living in this ancient culture. The harsh conditions and lack of modern facilities mean that death is ever present, understood and accepted rather than feared or ignored. People die in the cold, in childbirth, from bubonic plague or alcoholism. They are swept away in swollen rivers or in mountainous ravines. And, in the end, it's the willingness of the human spirit to undergo such privation which gives these isolated people the exuberance of being truly alive. (Kirkus UK)


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Author Biography - Louisa Waugh

Louise Waugh has written for the GUARDIAN on Ulan Bator, and a 10-part series on Mongolia for the BBC World Service.

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