In The Afterlife of Birds, award-winning poet Elizabeth Philips draws together unforgettable characters who subtly, powerfully demonstrate the beauty of ordinary lives and finding our place in the world. Henry Jett is perpetually puzzled, a state that’s painful, but also comforting. If all he does is pursue is admittedly odd hobby, assembling bird skeletons, then he doesn’t have to solve the deeper mysteries around him. He doesn’t have to understand his brother, Dan’s, obsession with running or relationship with his brilliant girlfriend, Rae. Or the long shadow that their father’s early death has cast over them. Or how he ended up working at Ed’s garage, when he doesn’t particularly like cars. An old woman, a Russian émigré, invites Henry in, and tells him stories—tales that take him further and further back in time. But when his mother’s former employee Marcie reappears, very pregnant, the tempo of Henry’s life quickens in ways that he never could have imagined.
Elizabeth Philips is the author of four books of poetry, most recently A Blue with Blood in it (Coteau Books: 2000) and Torch River (Brick Books: 2007). Among other awards, she has won two Saskatchewan Book Awards, a National Magazine Award, an Alberta Magazine Award, and Torch River was a finalist for the Lambda Book Award in the US. Her poems have been anthologized in The Best Canadian Poetry in English, 2009 and 70 Canadian Poets (Gary Geddes, editor, 2014). The Afterlife of Birds is her first novel. She lives in Saskatoon with her partner and their dogs.