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Lung Ha Reviews: Helen Macdonald. The Natural World Beyond ‘H is For Hawk’

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Helen Macdonald: The Natural World Beyond ‘H is For Hawk’

Presented as part of Edinburgh International Book Festival. 

In this event Helen Macdonald discusses her work and ideas with fellow author and the Guardian's chief culture writer, Charlotte Higgins. 

This event was available live on the Edinburgh Book Festival website and consisted of an interview through a video call with Helen Macdonald, the author of the book H is For Hawk, followed by a live question and answer session. The book, an account of her experience of training a young goshawk at a time of personal grief in her life, won a number of awards, including the Samuel Johnson Prize and the Costa Book of the Year. 

Despite not being there in person, the audience members were successfully included in the conversation through a chat box for typing questions. Several times during the interview, the author read out passages of her book, which vividly describes nature through metaphors and discusses current political and environmental issues.

I enjoy this aspect a lot because I love reading and have started writing some stories for Tiphereth, a residential care home just outside Edinburgh where I live and work and which is part of the Camphill Community and day service.

Helen Macdonald made the book and the interview personal through her own experiences of being in nature and expressed strong opinions on conservation and the destruction of habitats. The author’s reading of the book helped me visualise the events and get a sense of the atmosphere of the story. It also inspired me to use language in different ways and explore further new topics of interest.

The author responded well to the questions asked by the audience and surprised them by bringing out her pet parrot. Unfortunately, this show is not available on demand but can’t be missed if it is ever on again. In the meantime, I would definitely recommend the book to anyone who enjoys reading about nature and current affairs.

Amy McCombes