The Screaming Sky

Charles Foster


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Little Toller Books
5 April 2022
ISBN: 9781915068002
268 pages

From the publisher

Shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize 2021

‘Thoughtful, eloquent and beguiling.’ Richard Davenport-Hines, The Oldie

‘Impresses on the page a reverence, an obsession, and eulogises about these tantalisingly high-riding creatures.’ Kirsteen McNish, Caught by the River


Swifts live in perpetual summer. They inhabit the air like nothing else on the planet. They watched the continents shuffle to their present positions and the mammals evolve. They are not ours, though we like to claim them. They defy all our categories and present no passports as they surf the winds across the world. They sleep in the air, their wings controlled by an alert half-brain. Yet for all their adaptability and longevity swifts have recently been added to the UK’s Red List of endangered birds.

This is a radical new look at the common swift  ̶  a numerous but profoundly uncommon bird  ̶  by Charles Foster, author of the New York Times bestseller Being a Beast. Foster follows the swifts through the world, manically, lyrically, yet scientifically. The poetry of swifts is in their facts, and this book, the paperback of the bestselling, Wainwright shortlisted monograph, draws deeply on the latest extraordinary discoveries. The Screaming Sky is illustrated throughout by Jonathan Pomroy.