On Pigeons, Dwellings and Why We Return
By Jon Day
A feral history of home, and our relationship with that most unloved bird.
As a boy, Jon Day was fascinated by pigeons, which he used to rescue from the streets of London. Twenty years later he moved away from the city centre to the suburbs to start a family. But in moving house, he began to lose a sense of what it means to feel at home.
Returning to his childhood obsession with the birds, he built a coop in his garden and joined a local pigeon racing club. Over the next few years, as he made a home with his young family in Leyton, he learned to train and race his pigeons, hoping that they might teach him to feel homed.
Having lived closely with humans for tens of thousands of years, pigeons have become powerful symbols of peace and domesticity. But they are also much-maligned, and nowadays most people think of these birds, if they do so at all, as vermin.
A book about the overlooked beauty of this species, and about what it means to dwell, Homing delves into the curious world of pigeon fancying, explores the scientific mysteries of animal homing, and traces the cultural, political and philosophical meanings of home. It is a book about the making of home and making for home: a book about why we return.
Jon Day is a Lecturer in English at King's College London. He has written for the London Review of Books, the New York Review of Books, the Guardian, the Financial Times, and others. His first book, Cyclogeography, was published in 2015. He lives with his family in London.
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- Publication date:
13 Jun 2019
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'Homing did something I thought would be impossible - made me fall in love with the humble, familiar feral pigeon. It is both a repository of fascinating stories and memorable characters, and a deeply felt personal enquiry into the nature of 'home'. Every page of this beautifully written book brought me pleasure' — Charlotte Higgins
Praise for Cyclogeography — -
A pleasure to read ... The book's most gripping ingredient is its obsessive drive ... wonderful ... unmissable — Guardian
Thrilling ...Cyclogeography's magic lies in the quality of the prose and Day's skill in looping together disparate threads — Financial Times
Takes the reader pillion from petrol-choked city to rolling dale in eloquent prose ... Day describes courier life with gritty realism — Independent