Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Guide to the Birds of East Africa” as Want to Read:
A Guide to the Birds of East Africa
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Guide to the Birds of East Africa (Mr Malik #1)

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  2,493 Ratings  ·  635 Reviews
For the past three years, Mr. Malik has been secretly in love with Rose Mbikwa, a woman who leads the weekly bird walks sponsored by the East African Ornithological Society. Just as Malik is getting up the nerve to invite Rose to the Nairobi Hunt Club Ball (the premier social occasion of the Kenyan calendar), Harry Khan, a nemesis from his school days, arrives in town.
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published September 18th 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Guide to the Birds of East Africa, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Guide to the Birds of East Africa

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann ShafferThe Help by Kathryn StockettAll Creatures Great and Small by James HerriotAnne of Green Gables by L.M. MontgomeryMagic America by C.E. Medford
Most Charming Novels
113 books — 118 voters
Blood River by Tim ButcherThings Fall Apart by Chinua AchebeThe Poisonwood Bible by Barbara KingsolverHalf of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieChasing the Devil by Tim Butcher
1,281 books — 1,294 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Richard Derus
Oct 05, 2011 Richard Derus rated it really liked it
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: For the past three years, Mr. Malik has been secretly in love with Rose Mbikwa, a woman who leads the weekly bird walks sponsored by the East African Ornithological Society. Just as Malik is getting up the nerve to invite Rose to the Nairobi Hunt Club Ball (the premier social occasion of the Kenyan calendar), Harry Khan, a nemesis from his school days, arrives in town. Khan has also become enraptured with Rose and announces his intent to invite her to the Ba
Feb 01, 2010 Lee rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Lee by: Sandy Thomson
I loved this book. The main protagonist, Mr. Malik is simply adorable. He is a man of unusual integrity living in a city filled with corruption. He is an older man in love with a woman who has no idea of the secrets that lie behind an unassuming facade. The story unfolds over the course of a few weeks and the reader, chapter by chapter, becomes privy to these surprising depths. Mr. Malik is an extremely private person and not even his closest drinking buddies at the club, nor the bird watching k ...more
WOWEE! I had never expected I would love his book -- I half expected I wouldn't even like it very much. But instead it was a tour de force, with all the elements of a great story: unrequited love, a protagonist who's brave and sweet-hearted and true behind his shyness, an appropriately dastardly villain whom you just want to smack in the face, a race to the finish line, and a good subplot to move things along. Seriously, I was floored. FLOORED. And no bloodshed or sexual activity for conservativ ...more
Sep 30, 2011 Chrissie rated it liked it
Recommended to Chrissie by: Jeanette

In conclusion: The ending is cute, but with this final note I haven't given anything away. It is how you get from A to Z that is important. A perfect comfort read, if that is what you are looking for. Please see below for more detailed information.


AFTER 80%: What I like about GR is that we help each other find books that will fit our own interests. No matter how much effort I put into studying a book before I choose it, each book is always
Mar 01, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Favorite quote: "There is a distressing but not uncommon condition of presidents and other world leaders known as Worrying about Africa. It is usually picked up overseas as at summit meeting on world poverty or disease, and symptoms include painful twinges of guilt over the discrepancy between First and Third World wealth, uncomfortable feelings somewhere below the stomach that perhaps unfettered capitalism is not the benevolent force for good we are constantly assured it is, and frequent attack ...more
Aug 12, 2008 Marilyn rated it it was amazing
An absolutely delightful about a man in love, the honorable, sweet, stubborn Mr. Malik of Nairobi. It will appeal to Alexander McCall Smith fans, but definitely stands on its own and will beguile any reader who appreciates sharp wit and gentle charm.
Aug 22, 2014 Hana rated it really liked it
Recommended to Hana by: Jeannette

Jeannette told me it's funny and heartwarming--a love story about birds and Kenya--and she was right! A Guide to the Birds of East Africa seems at first a charming but slight book, even a silly one.

The plot has more speedy twists and turns than a black mamba but it's much friendlier. I loved the protagonist, Mr. Malik--a truly good and gentle man-- and all the supporting cast were wonderfully alive and drawn with affectionate humor. (I grew particularly fond of the lawyer who loved to drop Latin
Feb 15, 2012 Mmars rated it it was amazing
Shelves: beach-reads
Years ago I struggled to find books my mother would like. They needed to be devoid of anything that smacked of worldly immorality - just about anything I was reading in the 70s and 80s. Simply put, she was narrow. I was broad. She appreciated good writing. But somehow this made it even harder. I wish I had discovered this then.

Not only is the book squeaky clean, there's a clean feeling to his storytelling. It's like laundry flapping behind your neighbor as she tells you the latest news around t
Lisa Vegan
Sep 19, 2010 Lisa Vegan rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lisa by: Lee
I love the little pen & ink drawings of birds, with their names shown, that are at the start of every chapter. The chapters are extremely short, and this should have been an incredibly quick read, but for some reason it took me some time to slog through, even though I enjoyed it, and as the story went on, it grew on me more and more, though I wasn’t perturbed when I had to put it down.

It’s a gentle and slow little story, and I could have done without the fact that the ball in question is at

«There is something about birds, their beauty and freedom, that is good for a man’s soul.»

Me acerqué a esta novela porque me llamaron la atención tanto el título como la portada, y tengo que decir que me encontré con un libro muy simpático y con un argumento diferente que me entretuvo mucho.

Ésta es la historia del simpático, querible y extremadamente honorable Mr. Malik: un hombre africano de ascendecia hindú que ronda los cincuenta años, y que además de tener un poco de sobrepeso y estarse q
Jun 11, 2013 Michele rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-of-2013
This book is being compared to #1 Ladies Detective Agency, but it shouldn't be. It's actually so very posh and full of all things British. Yes, it takes place in Africa but I found more similiarities to "Mr. Pettigrew's Last Stand."

I found this book nothing short of delightful. If you love nature, good narration and witty word play, this is the book for you. I even enjoyed and giggled over the Bill Clinton jokes. In a word this book is satisfying.

If you've ever experienced the beauties of Afric
Dec 12, 2008 Jill rated it really liked it
This was such a sweet story set in...where else...Africa! My latest obsession. Anyway, this is a story of Mr Malik, a middle-aged man living in Nairobi Kenya who is in love with his bird-watching guide Rose Mbikawa, but just can't work up the nerve to ask her out. Along comes his old school rival, Harry Khan, and the competition begins. This was a sort of tortoise and hare story and you just can't help but adore Mr Malik by the end.
Jan 05, 2009 Barbara rated it really liked it
Sweet and charming story set in Kenya. Malik and Harry, two very different men, find themselves pitted in a birdwatching contest whose winner will have the chance to ask Rose to the Nairobi Hunt Club Ball. The story moves slowly but surely to a somewhat predictable ending but that's okay. I'd love to see all those great birds with the wonderful names. Now who was that strange but funny narrator?
Jun 23, 2014 verbava rated it really liked it
чудова маленька річ, повна сонця, доброго гумору, любові до світу – навіть якщо в цьому світі пахне димом, стріляють із ак-47 і не скрізь є електрика (але не подумайте, що то загальний пейзаж, то тільки окремі деталі, а пейзаж складається ще з купи інших) – і, звісно, неймовірних пташок східної африки.
аж хочеться, щоб це була серія і щоб у цих симпатичних і благородних персонажів було більше схожих пригод.

користуючись нагодою, вітаю себе із тисячною прочитаною книжкою на гудрідсі.
Jul 14, 2015 lukk rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-russian
У этой книги оказалось одно неоспоримое достоинство – краткость. Благодушное предотпускное настроение и сумасшедшее питерское лето (утром поливающее дождем, вечером прожигающее насквозь) отчасти сгладили разочарование от книги. Но все равно – скучный наивняк + бытовуха + вкрапления птичек.

Приличная часть книги представляет собой натуральное соплежуйство главного героя–неудачника. Бесцеремонному противнику-читеру он ответить не может, по даме сердца молча сохнет, отказать сотоварищам не способен,
Jun 04, 2010 Jess rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
I unexpectedly loved this book. While I knew I wanted to read it for the College Students Spring/Summer Challenge this year, when I actually picked it up from the library I actually hesitated before bringing it home. For whatever reason, the font really bugs me in this book, but I got used to it. I also find it can be difficult for me to read books with British spellings, punctuation, and dialogue (because of the punctuation), so I was a bit hesitant.

I am so thrilled to have read a book about Af
Allanah Osborn
Jun 20, 2013 Allanah Osborn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For my high-school years I had the opportunity to live in Nairobi, Kenya. So, reading this novel, A Guide to the Birds of East Africa, was quite the experience. It was great to have such a concrete visual in my mind of all the places mentioned in the book. They would go to Naivasha, and in my head, ‘Oh! I’ve been there,’ and the Muthaiga Club, ‘Oh, that’s where we had our senior prom.’ To say the least, I really enjoyed reading this book.

Set in Nairobi, Kenya, is this unexpected love story told
Feb 08, 2011 Adrienne rated it really liked it
This a charming and delightful story, set in Nairobi, Kenya, about a retired man who has admired the woman who leads his bird-watching group for many years, but has been too shy to do anything about it. He then learns that another man, whom he has known from his younger school days, is also interested in the woman. A competition develops to determine which of the men can be the one to invite the woman to an upcoming ball. Although the story starts off a little slow, it soon becomes very entertai ...more
Nov 14, 2011 Jycel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lo que me atrajo de este libro, a primer vistazo, fue su portada. Y como el precio era asequible y el resumen que había en la contraportada me gustó, lo compré con bastante ilusión.

El título en español es "Un Baile en Nairobi". Ésta es una de esas rarísimas veces en las que estoy de acuerdo con la libre traducción del título, porque le viene más al caso.

No me arrepiento de haberlo hecho. No conocía al autor ni nada de su obra, pero fue como uno de esos flechazos que dan de vez en cuando con lo
Сhristie ♥
Jun 16, 2014 Сhristie ♥ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
Зараз я вам відкрию невеликий секрет. Навіть два. Вечорами після роботи, я поспішаю додому, щоб зайнятися улюбленою справою: поринути з головою в наступну книгу. Такі ж душевнохворі, як я зрозуміють і підтримають: book lovers never go to bed alone. А як інакше можна без копійки помандрувати, скажімо, в Кенію і закохатися в неї? Ось тут ховається мій другий секрет. "Книга птиц Восточной Африки". Коли знаходиш хорошу книгу, хочеться ділитися нею навіть з незнайомими людьми в трамваї і приставати д ...more
Jul 25, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
I'd give this a PG rating due to a couple curse words and mild innuendoes.

I thought this book was delightful. I love the story of a couple of old men waging a bet at a club of old men over a woman. The narrator lets the story unfold in a charming and quaint way. To show that the club is a place where men enjoy betting on anything and everything we are first introduced to a bet between two patrons over a study on how often a man farts in a day. I love the idea of a couple of old farts discussing
Deon Stonehouse
A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson is a charmer! It is so lively and delightful the words practically sing off the page. Rose Mbikwa has won the heart of Mr. Malik, she is unaware of his devotion. Mr. Malik’s doctor suggested a hobby; he selected bird watching and joined Rose’s weekly bird-walks. For years he has attended the bird-walks with devotion, gazing on Rose from the sidelines. It has taken him a long time but this year he decided to stiffen his resolve and take acti ...more
Jun 20, 2013 Jeanette rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary
Some books are like a raging river with lots of twists and bends, white water and breathless near escapes from capsizing - Nicholas Drayson's A Guide to the Birds of East Africa is not one of these. It is more like a meandering river that rolls expansively along the plains though it does begin to pick up a stiff current about halfway through the book. Drayson uses an omniscient point of view - which adds to the whimsical feel of the book - and on occasion breaks in with chummy narratoral comment ...more
Nov 17, 2012 Adri rated it it was amazing
This is not 'high' literature, but it is a beautiful book. I usually take one book from the library which I would classify as 'light reading' for those times when I HAVE to read but do not want to concentrate too much. Upon occasion I thus stumble on a little gem. It is like picking up a scrap of glass because it is shiny only to discover that it is 'THE REAL THING'.

This book, in my opinion, is such a find. As another reviewer said, it has everything to make it an excellent story. It is a quick
Очень легкое каникулярное чтение, как замечательно выразилась Таня, "о том, как мирные занятия обогащают жизнь".
В Me Before You, например, автор настойчиво устами прикованного к коляске авантюриста подстегивает читателя поднять свою задницу и покорить Эверест, и бедный читатель невольно задумывается, дрожащий он или надо идти сегодня на пробежку. "Книга птиц" же говорит, что иногда можно разглядеть редкую птицу на собственном заднем дворе, прийти на бал без подготовки и получить помощь откуда н
Jan 05, 2009 Victoria rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-general
A review on the back of the book jacket states "a sort of P.G. Wodehouse meets Alexander McCall Smith." I've got to agree with that. The voice of the narrator threw me at first, because Smith's books are told from the points of view of the characters only. By page 50, I made the switch and couldn't put down the book until the end of the story. I found a certain depth missing, but I think it's because the author touched on so many interesting facets of that world without providing much elaboratio ...more
Nov 30, 2008 Polly rated it liked it
A pleasant read if you like birds and have been to East Africa. Not riveting otherwise. A sweet tale of a birdwatching contest, some politics, some love amongst the older birdwatchers. Similar to an Alexander McCall Smith novel but takes place in Kenya and most of main characters are Africans of East Indian heritage.
Aug 09, 2011 Melki rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, birds
A charming tale set in Kenya. Two gentlemen race to see who can spot the most bird species, as the winner gets to ask a certain lady to the club dance. Written in the sweet and gentle style of Alexander McCall Smith, this book proves you're never too old to be a fool for love.
Sep 30, 2015 Amiad rated it liked it
ספר קטן וחמוד
This was a recommendation received long ago by an old workmate when I was looking for ideas for reads for First Thing About Bookclub. It's patiently sat on hand written lists, then onto Goodreads and waited for years. I finally picked it up for the October challenge this year. And imagine my surprise when I discovered it was written by a Canberran. Should have read it sooner!

The book is actually set in Nairobi, Kenya and introduces us to Mr Malik who is a Kenyan of Indian descent. Mr Malik is a
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Baking Cakes in Kigali
  • Twenty Chickens for a Saddle
  • The Mottled Lizard
  • The Witch Doctor's Wife (Amanda Brown #1)
  • The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds
  • Game for Anything
  • The Camel Bookmobile
  • The Shadow of Kilimanjaro: On Foot Across East Africa
  • The Wilderness Family: At Home with Africa's Wildlife
  • Life List: A Woman's Quest for the World's Most Amazing Birds
  • Rules of the Wild: A Novel of Africa
  • Malaria Dreams: An African Adventure
  • Red-tails in love : Pale Male's story--a true wildlife drama in Central Park
  • Unbowed
  • Reading the Ceiling
  • Travels in West Africa
  • The Girl Who Married a Lion: And Other Tales from Africa
  • A Cowrie of Hope
Nicholas Drayson has written extensively about wildlife and natural history and is the author of the novels Confessing a Murder, which was hailed by Booklist for its "view of Darwin never before seen", Love and the Platypus and A Guide to the Beasts of East Africa. An Englishman by birth, Drayson has worked as a journalist in the UK, Kenya and Australia, writing for publications such as the Daily ...more
More about Nicholas Drayson...

Other Books in the Series

Mr Malik (2 books)
  • A Guide to the Beasts of East Africa (Mr Malik, #2)

Share This Book

“It's happened to me, and it's probably happened to you. From the first exchange of good mornings they had recognized in each other a kindred soul. Though neither spoke much to start with, they felt an immediate ease in each other's company that was both surprising and yet the most natural thing in the world.” 8 likes
“There is something about African time that even the Swiss find a challenge.” 3 likes
More quotes…