Biography[ edit ] Louis H. He was educated at Bradfield College and joined the army when he was 18, but left after four months of the officer training course at Sandhurst. Before he began to write full-time he held a wide variety of jobs, including being a mechanic, a motorcycle messenger and an English teacher in Colombia. He now lives near Bungay in Suffolk. He has never married.
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Buy Birds Without Wings at Amazon. But towns still tumble down hills near the sea; there are similar olives and goats and scents of wild thyme. And the new book is also preoccupied by communities turned against each other, with decent people uprooted and destabilised by war and seeing their sense of themselves slipping away; with small acts of heroism in the face of heedless, grinding history.
But he thinks that Birds Without Wings is probably a better novel, and he could well be right. The inside is a clutter of books and musical instruments, old washing-up, bits of paper and the odd item of clothing.
There are rooms that look as if the furniture might well have been thrown in and just left to land. He speaks in a slightly breathy voice with a faint twang of south London, which presumably dates from the decade or so he spent teaching in schools there.
He grew up in the part of Surrey that borders Sussex, known to locals as the Surrey Tyrol, and boarded at prep and public schools. But I wanted a break. And I had a lot of other things going on.
I left London; this place took three years to decorate. And I only write when I feel like it. So sometimes, I can go weeks or months without doing anything. He is practising his flute when I arrive.
This particular model he has many is wooden, which, he explains, gives a more mellow sound. He plays in a music group with three professional flautists. Like Corelli, his new novel began with a holiday.
It used to be a mixed community, as described in the book more or less, and they obviously had a wonderful way of life, quite sophisticated. The town was finally destroyed by an earthquake in the Fifties, but it really started to die when the Christian population was deported. It was walking around that very special place that gave me the idea.
He decided to write a novel about the deportation of Asia Minor Christians to Greece and Greek Muslims to Turkey, about the shifts in history that made such disruption possible, and the effects on individuals of being caught up in this maelstrom of population movement. When he started the book, there was ethnic cleansing in the Balkans; by the time he finished it, the world had had its awareness of tensions between Islam and Christianity renewed.
Then I fit it all together at the end. He points out that many people told him they struggled through the first 50 pages of Captain Corelli. I only want determined readers, really. The book received perfectly respectable marketing for the kind of author he was then ie one not on any bestseller lists. At first, becoming considerably richer was slightly bewildering. It takes a while to realise how stupid that is. For instance, I noticed I was beginning to interrupt people in mid-sentence, so I had to stop.
The furniture in his house is scruffy. I do have extravagant tastes in musical instruments, but I use my euros from European publishers for those. But he is conservative insofar as he rejects utopianism. But I was conscious in Birds Without Wings of toning it all down. I never use violence to excite; my purpose is to renew the moral shock. He was consequently entirely unsuited for the army, for which he signed up at school, aged 15, and where, aged 18, he lasted only four months. The adventure supplied material for his first three published books, which were imbued with a magical realism that he has since mostly abandoned, although he retains a fondness for superstition and coincidence, and for the rural societies in which they flourish.
The next big book I want to write would begin in and end about 15 years ago, and probably the first third of that would be in Britain. For a pessimist, he seems to have a very nice life. It might be making something in the workshop or learning a new piece of music. I start kicking the furniture. You can think of it as a sort of obsessive illness if you like. If I stop, I go barmy.
So I spent my time looking over my old short stories. And one of those stories turned into my first novel. He talks about himself with irony and writes with alternating savagery and sentimentality.
Louis de Bernières
The setting is a small village in southwestern Anatolia in the waning years of the Ottoman Empire. Everyone there speaks Turkish, though they write it in Greek letters. But all of this will change when Turkey enters the modern world. Epic in sweep, intoxicating in its sensual detail, Birds Without Wings is an enchantment. About Birds Without Wings Birds Without Wings traces the fortunes of one small community in southwest Turkey Anatolia in the early part of the last century—a quirky community in which Christian and Muslim lives and traditions have co-existed peacefully over the centuries and where friendship, even love, has transcended religious differences.
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Buy Birds Without Wings at Amazon. But towns still tumble down hills near the sea; there are similar olives and goats and scents of wild thyme. And the new book is also preoccupied by communities turned against each other, with decent people uprooted and destabilised by war and seeing their sense of themselves slipping away; with small acts of heroism in the face of heedless, grinding history. But he thinks that Birds Without Wings is probably a better novel, and he could well be right. The inside is a clutter of books and musical instruments, old washing-up, bits of paper and the odd item of clothing.
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