A stunning achievement.
Charlotte Eyere, The Bookseller
A shocking, refreshingly different, coming of age story.
Alex O'Connell, The Times
A sprightly adventure ... told with energy and conviction
Nicolette Jones, The Sunday Times
Her sparse and feathery prose has an almost mesmeric quality – and succeeds in building a beautiful story out of harrowing events.
Emily Bearn, The Telegraph
A powerhouse of a novel, with an unforgettable narrator.
Fiona Noble, The Observer
Provocative and Satisfying.
Amanda Craig, The New Statesman
The ocean was singing. And then, slowly beneath the waves, something moved.
I leaned out, out, across the rail not caring that the icy spray was needling me. A shadow pressed up against the surface. The water began to cascade around it like a waterfall. A great eye opened, the iris glistening and grey around a massive black pupil.
The ocean looked at me.
The year is 1904. The Philippines is under american rule, and Luki's mountain village is changing – in every way, except in what a young woman can do.
The ancients forbid Luki from hunting, even though she is a better hunter than any man. And soon, they will make her marry, whether she wants to or not.
Then comes an invitation from President Theodore Roosevelt: to visit the World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. The ancients say no, but Luki leaps at the chance. She wants to see the great white palaces and wonders of the Fair ... and she wants to be free.
But Luki will discover that the land of opportunity is not at all what she expects.
This is a photo in the public domain of Tugmena, a Suyoc Igorot girl who travelled to the World's Fair in 1904
Wild Song is set in the World's Fair of 1904, in St Louis, Missouri. Below is a Panorama of the World's Fair. The Philippine Reservation is located at the top right. Illustration: Public Domain via the U.S. Library of Congress.
T I M E L I N E
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Wild Song Cuttings
Candy Gourlay doesn’t shy away from the hardest, cruelest parts of history, but she writes in such a sensitive, clear-eyed (and ultimately hopeful) way that you come away thinking that this book should be mandatory reading around the world – that everyone should know and grieve what happened at this fair.
This incredible story not only highlights the plight of those displaced from their homes from the Philippines and all over the world but it also allows the reader a glimpse into the traditions and life Filipinos try to preserve for generations to come
In the vividly imagined novel, “Wild Song,” Igorots are trafficked from their mountain villages to 1904 racist America so they can entertain white people in a “human zoo” with their dances and farming rituals. It would be the crazy stuff of fantasy if it weren’t based on the appalling true story of the Saint Louis World’s Fair.