Bird Boy

"Bauers best novel ever, affiliated with my latest work." Gerbrand Bakker

‘An extraordinary, well-wrought and impressive story. This novel deserves awards!’ – Man of Books, Max TV

‘Bird Boy is a unique novel about an oppressive childhood and the tale of a bed-ridden patient suffering from locked-in syndrome. It will will haunt you for days after finishing the novel.’ – Literatuurplein

‘This is one of the best things that I have come across in the past few weeks – no, past few months. I love this bird boy.’ – VRT Belgium

‘Guus Bauer masterfully shows the struggle and the frustration of a patient in a pseudo-coma, desperately looking for a way out of his imprisonment through sounds, smells and feelings. With unparalleled precision, Bauer spins a beautiful tale that will leave you speechless.’ –

In the hospital, a successful business man regains consciousness. He cannot move or talk, but his brain is firing on all cylinders: he still registers everything that happens around him. Even his senses seem to have heightened. However, he cannot act, cannot intervene. His body has become his prison and the rest of the world considers him comatose.

How did he end up like this? Perhaps it has something to do with the discovery of ‘his new identity’. Fortunately, his mind has not been affected and he can sift through his memories, looking for clues and missed signals. He projects these memories onto the ceiling, the one constant in his life.

Gradually, he is able to fill in the blanks about what caused his affliction and he starts to realize the impact of what has been hidden to him. At the same time, he begins to wonder if he is not guilty as well: guilty of denial, guilty of what really happened to one of his childhood friends. Piece by piece, the business man uncovers the truth, but will he have the chance to share his revelations with the world?

It’s very moving and funny and painful, all at the same time. The ending is lovely. Natalya (the nurse) becomes a major character, and a major human being. As you read I kept feeling the simple contrast of paralysis and movement takes hold of you. The memories are so full of movement, of ‘happening’, even when nothing much seems to be happening. But of course they are. Your character is like a man who, motionless himself, can only watch moving pictures on a screen – and they are his life. Bravo again. Graham Swift