Set in New York and London and shortlisted for the Costa Novel Prize and a selection of the Nervous Breakdown Book Club, a stunningly observed and unflinching yet tender novel that interrogates the relationship between mental illness and love
Mina is staring over the edge of the George Washington Bridge when a patrol car drives up. She tries to convince the officers she’s not about to jump, but they don’t believe her. Her husband, Oscar, is called to pick her up.
Oscar hopes that leaving New York City for a few months will give Mina the space to heal, so they move to London, to Oscar’s oldest friends and an apartment wallpapered with indigo-eyed birds, near a canal and flower market. Mina, a classicist, works on her book about mythological women and searches for solutions to her failing mental health by pondering their lives. Penelope, Psyche, Leda . . . They all survived, didn’t they? Even Iphigenia, in one of the tellings. Mina finally finds a beam of light in Phoebe, a real-life woman, and Oscar and Mina’s complicated love is tested.
A gorgeously wrought novel, variously about love, mythology, mental illness, and the times we need to seek out milder psychological climates, Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s Starling Days is a complex and compelling work of fiction by a singularly gifted writer.
About the Author
ROWAN HISAYO BUCHANAN is an American and British novelist, short story writer, and essayist. She received her BA from Columbia University and her MFA from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her first novel Harmless Like You was a New York Times Editors' Choice and an NPR Great Read. In the UK it won the Author's Club First Novel Award, a Betty Trask award, and was shortlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize. Her work has appeared in Granta, Guernica, the Guardian, and the Paris Review, among other places.
“Readers willing to brave the darkness will find a worthy, nuanced portrait of a woman’s struggle for self-determination amid mental illness.”
— Publisher's Weekly
“A gripping, tender, and unsettling look at mental illness... Poetic and understated, this nuanced work by Buchanan also addresses adult-child relationships, the legacy of family trauma, and the challenge of offering unconditional love...Complex and resonant.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Starling Days is unlike anything I’ve ever read. Both quiet and scorching, this is a story about mental health, desire, and the myriad mythologies we both build and destroy. Rowan Hisayo Buchanan has offered us another supreme gift of a novel, a rare opportunity to love and forgive our darkest and most shimmering selves.”
— T. Kira Madden
“Starling Days a beautiful and profoundly moving “floor plan” of what it means to live with depression and dailiness, love and death, solitude and connection.”
— Elaine Castillo
“A singular novel from the poetic and painterly mind of Rowan Hisayo Buchanan.”
— Sharlene Teo
“A quiet triumph—tenderly and disarmingly exploring the responsibility of love, loneliness, what it is to feel lost.”
— Sophie Mackintosh
“The gifted Rowan Hisayo Buchanan follows her marvelous debut with Starling Days... portraying complex character and tangled interpersonal relations with striking maturity.”
— Financial Times
“An exquisite rendering of love, sadness, and misunderstanding...I want to share this book with everyone I know.”
— Spencer Quong
“Everyone could use a change of scenery — and nobody more than Oscar and Mina, a married couple who leave New York for London after Mina's second suicide attempt. But a trek across the pond can't keep some old baggage away.”
— Entertainment Weekly
“Buchanan’s second novel tenderly explores mental illness, bisexuality, connection, love and loss. This is an original, poetic and striking literary triumph."
— Ms. Magazine
“In this heartfelt book about a struggling young couple, Buchanan surfaces the many ways in which love can be complicated.”