The universally respected NPR journalist and bestselling memoirist Scott Simon makes a dazzling fiction debut. In Pretty Birds, Simon creates an intense, startling, and tragicomic portrait of a classic character — a young woman in the besieged city of Sarajevo in the early 1990s.
“This extraordinary debut illuminates a time and place where civilians fought back….A magnificent tribute, not just to the Sarajevans whose siege Simon reported, but to the indestructible human spirit.”Kirkus Reviews
Young women served as snipers for both Bosnian and Serbian forces during the siege of Sarajevo; Simon… interviewed one of them and has masterfully imagined her life…A deeply felt, boldly told story and clean, forceful prose distinguish this striking first novel.
Publishers Weekly, starred review
It is no insult to Simon’s novelistic skill to say that his book’s excellence rests finally on his reporter’s eye and ear….Simon’s novel is a fine tribute to the heroes and victims who were his friends [in Sarajevo].
The Washington Post
Pretty Birds…is an example of what can go right when a journalist turns novelist. Simon…loads the book with a specificity that comes from a seasoned reportorial eye….[A] riveting — and heartbreaking — tale.
The Christian Science Monitor
A portrait of resilience, punctuated by mortar blasts and Clash songs
The New York Times