* Wonderfully accessible travel book on an inaccessible country - Outer Mongolia.
HEARING BIRDS FLY is Louisa Waugh's passionately written account of her time in a remote Mongolian village. Frustrated by the increasingly bland character of the capital city of Ulan Bator, she yearned for the real Mongolia and got the chance when she was summoned by the village head to go to Tsengel far away in the west, near the Kazakh border. Her story completely transports the reader to feel the glacial cold and to see the wonders of the Seven Kings as they steadily emerge from the horizon.
Through her we sense their trials as well as their joys, rivalries and even hostilities, many of which the author shared or knew about. Her time in the village was marked by coming to terms with the harshness of climate and also by how she faced up to new feelings towards the treatment of animals, death, solitude and real loneliness, and the constant struggle to censor her reactions as an outsider. Above all, Louisa Waugh involves us with the locals' lives in such a way that we come to know them and care for their fates.
With a skill and art quite extraordinary for a first book ... the reader is drawn into the world she describes through the warmth of her friendships and the sympathy and generosity with which she treats all aspects of her subject. I put the book down finally with a sense of absolute satisfaction, having spent the last few hours beneath the spell of a writer of real integrity and power - Chris Stewart
Her great strength is telling the villager s' stories, which she does with an engaging blend of charm, directness, humour and awe at the power of nature... It is a mark of Waugh's success that the romantic terra incognita she describes, helped by unsentime - TLS
An elegy to a remarkable part of the world. - SUNDAY TIMES
Waugh has captured the starkly beautiful landscapes in restrained descriptive passages, but the most fascinating aspect of her narrative is her portrayal of the villagers and the nomads she meets higher up the mountains... HEARING BIRDS FLY is an extraordi - OBSERVER