Rara Avis

Fluttering with playful magical-realist touches, Jacqueline Weld’s buoyant debut Rara Avis centers on a ”rare bird” indeed: Soraida, a turquoise-plumed parrot, quotes Flaubert, swears like a sailor, and utters ”wise and terrible things” to the Romandias, the feckless, pampered South American family with whom she resides. Seven-year-old daughter Lita describes how government magistrates accuse her family of being superfluous, seditious ”birdbrains” and set up a comical trial-cum-variety show on their front lawn. Only Soraida possesses the smarts and singing voice necessary to plead the Romandias’ case. This novella-length fable is as light as a feather — but one that’s brightly hued. B

Rara Avis
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