Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Tail of the Blue Bird” as Want to Read:
Tail of the Blue Bird
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Tail of the Blue Bird

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  119 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Sonokrom, a village in the Ghanaian hinterland, has not changed for thousands of years. Here, the men and women speak the language of the forest, drink aphrodisiacs with their palm wine and walk alongside the spirits of their ancestors. The discovery of sinister remains; possibly human, definitely 'evil'; in a vanished man's hut brings the modern world into the village in ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published June 4th 2009 by Jonathan Cape
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 Tail of the Blue Bird, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Tail of the Blue Bird

White Teeth by Zadie SmithSmall Island by Andrea LevyOn Beauty by Zadie SmithThe Lonely Londoners by Sam SelvonThe Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna
Black British Literature
19th out of 89 books — 43 voters
Wife of the Gods by Kwei QuarteyThe Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born by Ayi Kwei ArmahGhana Must Go by Taiye SelasiPowder Necklace by Nana Ekua Brew-HammondThe Civilized World by Susi Wyss
Books Set in Ghana
15th out of 113 books — 22 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 324)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 05, 2014 Paul rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
A classic whodunit detective novel set in Ghana, with a literary flavour, written by a poet, with a sharp and perceptive use of local dialect. It focuses on Kayo, a forensic scientist trained in Britain and who had worked for a British police force. He has returned to Ghana and is working for a company doing mundane forensic work for a private company and hoping for something better.
The girlfriend of a minister finds something that may be human remains in a village in the interior. There are wh
A young scientist and forensic expert, Kayo, is coerced into investigating some foul smelling, presumably human remains found in a small village far away from the Ghanaian capital of Accra when other policemen are baffled by the villagers' lack of cooperation. A newly-minted forensic investigator, a genteel and polite Ghanaian man educated in England, is forcibly coopted by the chief of police (who, obviously, has his own agenda in pursuing the case). Kayo and his assigned partner Garba use take ...more
Friederike Knabe
Nov 25, 2013 Friederike Knabe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: africa, african-lit
It feels good to read an entertaining story like this: Tail of the Blue Bird by Ghanaian writer, Nii Ayikwei Parkes. He is presenting us with an original murder mystery, an adventure story that moves beyond fact-based evidence with believable, well drawn characters. Despite its fantasy-like cover image, Nii Ayikwei Parkes's novel is firmly grounded in modern-day Ghanaian reality that incorporates urban as well as rural life and with it the need to bridge the different cultural, linguistic and sp ...more
Jan 22, 2016 xiny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Se lleva tres estrellas y no cuatro por lo insípida que me ha parecido la introducción. Tiene un primer capítulo muy divertido en el que enfrenta las costumbres tradicionales con la adopción orgullosa (y un tanto ridícula a veces) del modo de vivir europeo por alguna gente de Ghana. El caso es que luego cambia de punto de vista y nos movemos para el resto del libro con el protagonista, un antropólogo forense ghanés que ha estudiado en Inglaterra, y que representa el equilibrio entre las dos part ...more
Jerome Kuseh
May 23, 2015 Jerome Kuseh rated it really liked it
Shelves: african
The first thing that hit me with this book was how unapologetically Ghanaian it was. Nii fills the book with urban pidgin English and rural Twi as well as direct translations that will leave non-Ghanaians scratching their heads.

The best part of the book is not the scientific deductions of the protagonist, Kayo, or the greed and corruption of Inspector Donkor, but the spellbinding storytelling of the old hunter, Opanyin Poku.

The logic defying mystery seems to be a rebellious attempt by Nii to ass
Kerstin Scheuer
Die Lesung im Weltempfänger-Salon machte mich neugierig auf dieses Buch. Daher „subbte“ es dann auch nicht lange. Leider hielt das Buch dann aber doch ganz, was ich erwartet hatte. Dass es kein klassischer Kriminalroman ist, war mir klar. Aber vor allem vom Aufbau des Buchs wurde während der Lesung ein vollkommen falscher Eindruck vermittelt. Auch das Ende fand ich etwas schwach.
Pluspunkte sammelt das Buch aber für die gute Darstellung der Verhältnisse im heutigen Ghana: der Unterschied zwischen
When the girlfriend of the minister for roads and highways spots a disgusting red lump of flesh in a hut in the village Sonokrom, what normally would have been ignored and left to the villagers suddenly becomes a matter of national importance. Inspector Donkor wants a promotion, and he believes that one of the only forensics specialists in Ghana–Kayo–can get it for him.

What Kayo finds in the village is a people still steeped in the culture of the countryside, in touch with Onyame and the ancesto
Apr 26, 2013 M M rated it really liked it
This is not translated fiction, although really it could be, as it has lengths of conversation in the pidgin of Ghana with little more than context to help the reader to decipher it. But it is a lovely tale of the clash between modernity and traditional values, and somewhat mystical in its acceptance that science and technology do not always have the answer when the age-old magics are at play in the world. So what happens in the book? Well, the girlfriend of a high-level politician finds a missh ...more
Jun 16, 2013 Buchdoktor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Schuld an dem Schlamassel in Großvater Opanyins Dorf war das Mädchen aus dem Nachbarort, das mit einem wichtigen Minister zusammenlebte. Hätte sie das eklige Ding nicht entdeckt, wäre nie die Polizei ins Dorf gekommen. Der junge Polizist aus Accra spricht Opanyin Poku als Dorfältesten auf Englisch an und lässt es an der üblichen Höflichkeit einem alten Jäger gegenüber mangeln. Seine Ermittlungsergebnisse fallen entsprechend mager aus. Da Inspektor Donkor eines Tages gern Polizeipräsident in der ...more
Dec 21, 2014 Alik rated it liked it
There seems to be a great idea behind this text, a fusion on several levels. The dramatic contrast in the social fabric of modern Kenya is reduplicated in the narrative, a detective story that aspires to incorporate, even reconcile the split by offering a double perspective, coexistence without contradiction.

Sadly, the execution reduces this ambition to a quirk. While it is not a bad story after all, even half a year later, having given it all some thought, I cannot figure out how it is supposed
Carolyne Gathuru
Dec 30, 2015 Carolyne Gathuru rated it it was amazing
This book has taken me right to the heart of rural and urban Ghana. Fantastic elucidation of family relationships, culture, the police system, beliefs, traditions, workplace politics, the rural-urban divide, the magic that food weaves as a central point for convergence, investigative forensics and of course today's Africa. Lovely story. The adrenaline around the "thing" is heart beat stopping throughout the book. Nii Ayikwei Parkes is definitely an addition to my list of favourite authors.
Jun 07, 2015 Marianne rated it liked it
Not my normal genre but I was intrigued enough to read it through in just a few sittings.

A simple murder mystery at heart, but it draws on some interesting material between very traditional tribal Africa and the modern world with its science and its corruption.

I was a little put off by some of the pidgin patois and localised words for everyday objects which made parts hard to understand. But the story was good and the ending worthwhile. 3 stars.
Harry Lyndon-skeggs
Feb 25, 2015 Harry Lyndon-skeggs rated it it was amazing
Great book, really gives an image of Ghana politics, rural communities and witch doctors. dint like the ending as much but a great read
Gijs Grob
Een heel Ghanees boek, vol Ghanese woorden, uitdrukkingen, gewoontes en mythes. 'Tale of the Blue Bird'heeft twee vertellers: een oude jager, die het boek begint en eindigt en een alwetende verteller, die ons het leeuwendeel van de roman vertelt, over de jonge forensisch onderzoeker Kayo uit Accra, die door de in- en in-corrupte politie wordt ingeschakeld om een mysterieuze misdaad in het afgelegen dorpje Sokorkrom in Oost-Ghana op te lossen.

In het dorpje mengen de forensische feiten zich met de
Jul 26, 2015 Johannes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Von "Wer war es" zu "Was ist eigentlich passiert" ist es ein poetischer und verworrener Weg, bei dem nie so recht klar ist, was nur eine Metapher ist und was nicht.
Jun 16, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Picked this up on a whim and really enjoyed it! I was able to interpret most of the Twi and pigdin based on context, but a small glossary at the back would not have been amiss.
May 19, 2015 Dzidedi rated it really liked it
A very good book. Ghana was exactly represented as we experience it.
Jun 25, 2014 Osotto rated it really liked it
One does not turn away from an elephant to throw stones at a small bird.
Nov 27, 2010 Mythili rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lovely detective story set in rural Ghana, Tail of the Blue Bird draws heavily from folklore and isn't afraid to leave some things shrouded in mystery. The book ends up being a gentle critique of story-telling in all its forms. As a tribal hunter tells the forensic pathologist, “On this earth, we have to choose the story we tell, because it affects us – it affects how we live.”
Jul 13, 2013 Aleya rated it really liked it
Loved it. Nii Parkes creates a world and language that stays with you long after you have put the book down. Really easy to read, and really enjoyed this who-dunnit set in a village in Ghana. A clash of two worlds is right.
Nina Chachu
Jun 26, 2011 Nina Chachu rated it really liked it
Relatively short novel which could be classified as a type of mystery, as there are elements of that type of story in it. But it also has elements of traditional stories, and a mix of language in it. I am quite impressed.
Aug 17, 2010 Aaron rated it really liked it
Shelves: african-lit
The coolest thing about this detective story is how Twi is interlaced with English and one starts to be able to understand the Twi.

It also captures the difficulty of being an educated African returning to Africa.
Prina Patel
Aug 29, 2013 Prina Patel rated it really liked it
A great quick read combining the pleasures of a mystery with supernatural undertones. Loved the use of Twi and Ghanaian references...made we want to go back to Ghana!
Jan 05, 2013 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good mystery story with a very new twist - western rational thinking vs. Ghana traditional thinking - and its fun
Aug 10, 2011 Remy rated it really liked it
This writer has a great style, he made me want to visit Ghana again. I regretted finishing the book.
May 07, 2011 Louise rated it liked it
Shelves: african-lit
7/10. Magic realism blended into a murder mystery in an African village. I enjoyed the story and the prose.
Dec 30, 2015 Étienne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: policier, favorites
Excellent. La lecture est super fluide et m'a rappelé de supers souvenirs du Bénin.
Sep 05, 2013 Juliet added it
What a surprisingly charming blend of the traditional and contemporary!
Aug 20, 2011 Emma rated it really liked it
A short book with colourful descriptions of Ghana and a good plot.
Benjamin Thornton
Benjamin Thornton marked it as to-read
Feb 12, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Harare North
  • Stained Glass Elegies
  • Search Sweet Country
  • Fragments (African Writers Series)
  • Harvest of Thorns
  • Powder Necklace: A Novel
  • Cruel City: A Novel
  • AMA
  • The Madonna of Excelsior
  • The Hairdresser of Harare
  • Das finstere Tal
  • Seven Houses in France: A Novel
  • Dreams in a Time of War: A Childhood Memoir
  • The Beggars' Strike (Longman African Writers Series)
  • Praying Mantis
  • A Varanda do Frangipani
  • The Barnum Museum
  • African Love Stories: An Anthology

Share This Book