The Birdcatcher

Finalist, National Book Awards 2022 for Fiction

book cover for Gayl Jones, The Birdcatcher
ISBN 9780807029947
Beacon Press
Gayl Jones author photo
Gayl Jones

Gayl Jones was born in Kentucky in 1949. She attended Connecticut College and Brown University and has taught at Wellesley College and the University of Michigan. More about this author >

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From the publisher:

Set primarily on the island of Ibiza, the story is narrated by the writer Amanda Wordlaw, whose closest friend, a gifted sculptor named Catherine Shuger, is repeatedly institutionalized for trying to kill a husband who never leaves her. The three form a quirky triangle on the white-washed island.

A study in Black women’s creative expression, and the intensity of their relationships, this work from Jones shows off her range and insight into the vicissitudes of all human nature – rewarding longtime fans and bringing her talent to a new generation of readers.

Judges Citation

The Birdcatcher is a ferocious defense of a woman’s right to make art— a precise, elegant, and unsentimental account of the subtle and unsubtle barriers thrown in her way. Gayl Jones suffers no fools, nor children, nor demonstratively supportive husbands, nor art scene sycophants. She wields language like a box cutter, some tiny surprise in every line. Staggeringly intelligent, the novel demands a reader’s fully embodied attention. This is one mean baby of a book.


Imani Perry, reads for Gayl Jones, at the 2022 National Book Awards Finalist Reading