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Book Title

Grief Is the Thing with Feathers

A Novel
Author 1
Max Porter
Here he is, husband and father, scruffy romantic, a shambolic scholar—a man adrift in the wake of his wife’s sudden, accidental death. And there are his two sons, who, like him, struggle in their London flat to face the unbearable sadness that has engulfed them. The father imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness while the boys wander, savage and unsupervised.

In this moment of violent despair they are visited by Crow—antagonist, trickster, goad, protector, therapist, and babysitter. This self-described “sentimental bird,” at once wild and tender, who “finds humans dull except in grief,” threatens to stay with the wounded family until they no longer need him. As weeks turn to months and the pain of loss lessens with the balm of memories, Crow’s efforts are rewarded and the little unit of three begins to recover: Dad resumes his book about the poet Ted Hughes; the boys get on with it, grow up.

Part novella, part polyphonic fable, part essay on grief, Max Porter’s extraordinary debut combines compassion and bravura style to dazzling effect. Full of angular wit and profound truths, Grief Is the Thing with Feathers is a startlingly original and haunting debut by a significant new talent.

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“It stunned me, full of beauty, hilarity, and thick black darkness.”—Evie Wyld

About the Author

Max  Porter
Credit: Francesca Jones
Max Porter is the author of Lanny, which was longlisted for the Booker Prize, Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, winner of the International Dylan Thomas Prize, and The Death of Francis Bacon. He lives in Bath with his family.
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  • “[Grief Is the Thing with Feathers] is about both the triumphs and failures of memory, and art's power of evocation. . . . [L]uminous.”New York Times Book Review
  • “In this unusual and poetic British prize winner, a writer and his young sons welcome a giant talking crow into their home to help them through a terrible loss.”—People
  • Grief Is the Thing with Feathers argues that books, literature and poetry can help save us. . . . [A] sublime and painful conjuring of a family’s grief.”—Los Angeles Times
  • “Mr. Porter gives expression to grief in all its emotional manifestations. . . . Unpredictably playful, [filled] with sarcasm, absurdity and black-winged humor.”—The Wall Street Journal
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