We Are All Birds of Uganda

We Are All Birds of Uganda


‘You can’t stop birds from flying, can you, Sameer? They go where they will…’

1960s UGANDA. Hasan is struggling to run his family business following the sudden death of his wife. Just as he begins to see a way forward, a new regime seizes power, and a wave of rising prejudice threatens to sweep away everything he has built.

Present-day LONDON. Sameer, a young high-flying lawyer, senses an emptiness in what he thought was the life of his dreams. Called back to his family home by an unexpected tragedy, Sameer begins to find the missing pieces of himself not in his future plans, but in a past he never knew.


Moving between two continents and several generations over a troubled century, We Are All Birds of Uganda is a multi-layered, moving and immensely resonant novel of love, loss, and what it means to find home.

It is the first work of fiction by Hafsa Zayyan, co-winner of the inaugural #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize, and one of the most exciting young novelists of today.

Our Review

Initially, I found We Are All Birds of Uganda hard to get into and I wasn't sure if I was going to carry on. The only thing that made me continue was that I first heard about this book on the radio and felt I had to read it. I am glad I continued because I loved it. 

We Are All Birds of Uganda focuses on an area of history I knew absolutely nothing about, and an area of the world I knew even less about. The author is able to transport the reader seamlessly between Leicester and Uganda. 

We are All Birds of Uganda is primarily about identity and belonging in a country where you are considered to be 'the other.' For Sameer, he faces mostly casual and covert racism and prejudices. He is a high powered lawyer from Leicester and when we meet him he is working all hours to try and secure a partnership. Sameer struggles with feelings of isolation and also the expectations of his parents which often differ from his own wishes.

The second timeline focuses on letters from his grandfather to his beloved first wife in 1945. These letter detail his life as an Indian born man living in Uganda, his position as a wealthy businessman and his expulsion from the country he loves. Initially, I struggled with this second timeline and found the attitude of the protagonist in this timeline difficult to deal with but as the book progressed I found the details of the political tensions in Uganda at this time fascinating. I felt for this man trying to make him way back to the country he loved so much. 

"We have over a thousand species here in Uganda. Those you just saw are nothing special, common migrant birds from Europe and Asia...We were trying to exterminate them for a while, couldn't work out how to stop them coming back though - you can't exactly stop birds from flying, can you? They don't recognise borders - they go where they will...In a way, I suppose we are all birds of Uganda."

We Are All Birds of Uganda was a slow-starter for me but is definitely a book I would read again and recommend to others.



Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 4.1/5

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