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The Cry of the Go-Away Bird

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  259 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Elise loves the farm that is her home; she loves playing with beetles and chameleons in the garden, buying sweets from the village shop and listening to the stories of spirits and charms told by her nanny, Beauty. As a young white girl in 1990s Zimbabwe, her life is idyllic. Her clothes are always clean and ironed, there is always tea in the silver teapot, gin and tonics a ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 10th 2011 by Harvill Secker (first published January 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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Nov 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Many books have been written about this period in Zimbabwe. On the cover of one was a comment along the lines of: 'Do we really need another book about Zimbabwe?' and it went on to suggest that, in providing a fresh look at what had gone on, the book in question proved a worthy read.

This novel by Andrea Eames does the same. There is a stark frankness at a basic, earthy level. Dialogue rings true. The senses reflect so accurately the land, the scenery, the weather, nuances of behavior. The story
Megan Stolz
Mar 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
It had been a little while (okay, a couple weeks) since I'd had a page turner and I found it in Andrea Eames' book. I'd first heard about it when I attended a panel she was on, at AWP about publishing global fiction. I was interested in the things she said and in what I'd heard about her book, so I bought it online (it hasn't been published in the States, btw, but everything's available on Amazon it seems).

I knew only a little about Zimbabwe and Mugabe before I read this book, but I think this s
For Books' Sake
Jan 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The Cry of the Go-Away Bird is a powerful coming-of-age novel that deserves a huge audience; this is a story that should be read. Like many coming-of-age novels, Eames has managed to create a character neither that likeable nor aspirational, but defiantly relatable.

This book explores so many different themes, but all so simply and evocatively it’s hard as a reviewer to express my admiration enough. This book is incredibly important as it expresses the horror and fear of people hated because of t
Jo Nieuwkerk
Dec 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
I thought this book realistically portrayed the life of a white teenage girl and her family during the years that Mugabe rose to power in Zimbabwe. I appreciated the perspective of a white Zimbabwean and how this was her country but that she felt she no longer belonged and had to leave because of the colour of her skin.
Rigatoni Baloney
Oct 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love books about African farm life be it Botswana or Zimbabwe, and this book was everything I wanted.
Jane Connor
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Elise loves the farm that is her home; she loves playing with beetles and chameleons in the garden, buying sweets from the village shop and listening to the stories of spirits and charms told by her nanny, Beauty. As a young white girl in 1990s Zimbabwe, her life is idyllic. Her clothes are always clean and ironed, there is always tea in the silver teapot, gin and tonics are served on the veranda, and, in theory at least, black and white live in harmony.

However this dream-world of her childhood
Anna Meryt
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book reads like a Memoir. The story is so close to many of the events that happened to the white farmers of Zimbabwe, it makes painful reading because so much is true.
In fact if anything I was d8ssapointed at the end if the book that it was represented as fiction.
It's a good story, well told but fiction? Most of the backstory is most certainly not.... even the front story must be based closely on real peope/events. of the time. I know, I was born there.
Luisa A.
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Evocative and engaging, I found this book an increasingly tense and powerful read. Knowing little about Zimbabwe, it was also a fascinating depiction of that country, its troubles and its people. Highly recommended.
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: global-read-read
Interesting details of farm life - I enjoyed it
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
Certainly not what I was expecting and I couldn't connect to it. ...more
Jul 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Elise loves the Zimbabwe that she calls home, but it is increasingly difficult to be a white. The privileged position of her childhood has eroded, and rather quickly. Her colour is a liability, and a dangerous one. Her beloved country has become a dangerous place, and it is only bravado that prevents her family from fleeing. Have they left it too late?

The Cry of the Go-Away Bird gets an easy three stars from me. With a solid story that unfolds steadily, with increasing tension, it's a book that
Kathleen Dixon
Dec 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: zimbabwe
I elected to read this book as it gained the most votes in the Around the World Challenge - country beginning with Z - in Book-Loving Kiwis. I like to read books others I know (or sort-of know) are reading, and I've been interested in the Rhodesia/Zimbabwe story since I was a child. I've also followed and read both fictional and non-fiction accounts of other troubled countries in Africa.

As an account of a girl in Zimbabwe in recent history, this book gives lots of description that evokes the col
Mardel Fehrenbach
Dec 26, 2011 rated it liked it
A novel written with powerfully evocative prose which I wish I had written about earlier, when I remembered the details more clearly. It had been recommended to me as a good coming-of-age novel, and I suppose it is, but it did not really strike me very strongly in that sense, even though it is a powerful novel about a young girl whose world is being ripped apart as she is growing up. But I didn't see Elise, the main character as really growing up in this novel. She is a young girl trying to come ...more
'We were Whites and nothing else...We huddled together with the rest of the community like pale maggots in a dusty corpse', January 14, 2015

This review is from: The Cry of the Go-Away Bird (Paperback)
Very well written account of the experience of white farmers in Mugabe's Zimbabwe, told from the perspective of a young teenage girl. Narrator Elise has never given much thought to being an 'ethnic minority' - her family are on good terms with their servants, the boss chats with his workers in the
Mar 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book and in fact found it hard to put down. Apart from boss farmer Mr Cooper who epitomes a white man's love and commitment to African land but who ultimately and most likely unjustly pays the price for sins of the previous generations, I did not find much to redeem or likeable in the characters of the other players. This only served to make the story more believable while the shadow of uncertainty and fear hangs silently over every page. The fear is gripping and the understandabl ...more
Sep 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Elise is a white Zimbabwean living an idyllic child's life. Open spaces and room to explore, with an adored maid to look after her. Elise moves easily between her two worlds, until her countries racial tensions start to spill over into her gentle world.

The book then becomes a tragic statement of the unravelling racial situation in Zimbabwe, and Elise is thrown into a life she neither understands or comprehends. As such, it is a very interesting read, and I found the insights and descriptions of
Sep 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Such an interesting book. Like so many of us living here in NZ. We know several people who have moved here from Zimbabwe. I have always wondered why some people stayed as things got so dangerous and out of control, while others packed up and left at the first signs of trouble. I guess each persons reasons for staying or going are part of who they are and their own unique personality. Such a sad story.
Mar 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, but got none of the ground-breaking prose other reviews and the gushing quotes on the back cover led me to believe would be on every page. It's a good story, it's reasonably well written, I could empathise with the character's situation, and it was a good read - I'd look out Andrea Eames again - but I don't think it's as clever as the publisher would like it to be. ...more
Sally Whitehead
Aug 29, 2013 rated it liked it
A coming of age novel which follows a white girl growing up in Mugabe's Zimbabwe. I should imagine this would be an eye opening and memorable novel to young adult readers, but sadly it falls short somehow and neither reaches its full potential as a real bildungsroman or as a depiction of the political tensions and horror surrounding the invasion of White farmsteads. Ian Holden's "Unfeeling" is a far more powerful, and rightly disturbing, narrative of this time. ...more
Amy Paulussen
Mar 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
A kind-of coming of age story. Fascinating to read about someone about my age, going through something so far removed from my own experience - especially, considering, our paths later crossed and ran parallel for a while! This book isn't auto-biographical, but much is based on the author's experience of living in Zimbabwe at a volatile time. A unique and moving story. ...more
Mar 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Just started this, it has had great write ups. Really excited to read what it is like.

I am half way through this book and it is fantastic. It is a must for anyone from Southern Africa - just the descriptions, scenery and the 'lingo' used is just classic. I am loving this book.
Oct 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book is heartbreaking and beautiful all at once. Andrea Eames is a weaver of words, I can't wait to read more things from her! ...more
Avid Reader
Jan 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Pre-order this book NOW as it is brilliant. Cannot recommend highley enough.
Apr 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My review of sorts can be found here: ...more
Andrea Staats
Jun 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Stayed up late in order to finish it. Very eye-opening story about a time and place that I knew nothing about. Also? The author has fantastic taste in clothes. Just so you know.
Oct 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2011
Very well crafted coming-of-age story set in 1990s and early 2000s Zimbabwe. An enlightening and compelling read.
Feb 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Enthralling book about a young white woman growing up in Zimbabwe as whites are being evicted from their farms.
Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
A really good read. Very atmposheric and the tension builds well as the book continues, although the end is a little predictable.
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Being new to Zimbabwe I enjoyed the language and all the 'only in Zimbabwe' moments - a perspective into an interesting country. ...more
Jill Lucas
Sep 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book! It was written from a different perspective than a lot of the Zimbabwe memoirs I've read, which was great. So happy I picked it up! ...more
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Book Loving Kiwis: The Cry of the Go-Away Bird 7 27 Dec 27, 2012 08:20PM  

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Andrea Eames was born in 1985. She was brought up in Zimbabwe, where she attended a Jewish school for six years, a Hindu school for one, a Catholic convent school for two and a half, and then the American International School in Harare for two years. Andrea's family moved to New Zealand in 2002. Andrea has worked as a bookseller and editor and now lives in Austin, Texas with her husband. ...more

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