Dierdre McNamer, Aviary

A masterful exploration of the rich and hidden facets of human character, as illuminated by the mysterious connections among the residents of a senior residence in Montana

At the deteriorating Pheasant Run, the occupants keep their secrets and sadnesses locked tight behind closed apartment doors. Kind Leo Umberti, formerly an insurance agent, now quietly spends his days painting abstract landscapes and mourning a long-ago loss. Down the hall, retired professor Rydell Clovis tries desperately to stay fit enough to restart a career in academia. Cassie McMackin, on the same floor, has seemingly lost everything--her husband and only child dead within months of each other--leaving her loosely tethered to this world. 

When a fire breaks out in the building, Lander Maki, the city's chief fire inspector, is called to investigate. With a gift and a passion for sorting out the mysteries of flame, Maki discovers more than a suspicious and complicated puzzle and soon finds himself delving into human nature and the personal and corporate greed visited upon the vulnerable. 

Beautifully written and long awaited, from a writer "with extraordinary emotional acuity and with a keen sense of the small detail that says it all" (Chicago Tribune), Aviary weaves a compelling tapestry of crisis, grief, and the mysteries of memory and old age.


Deirdre McNamer is the author of four previous novels: Rima in the Weeds, One Sweet Quarrel, My Russian, and Red Rover, which was a winner of the Montana Book Award and was named a Best Book of the Year by Artforum, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. Her essays, short fiction, and reviews have appeared in the New Yorker, Ploughshares, the New York Times, and Outside, among other venues. McNamer chaired the fiction panel of the National Book Awards in 2011 and was a judge for the 2015 PEN/Faulkner Award. She has taught writing at Cornell University, Williams College, the University of Ohio, the University of Oregon, the University of Alabama, the University of Montana, and the Bennington Writing Seminars, where she currently holds a faculty position in the low-residency MFA program. She lives in Missoula, Montana.

Event date: 
Wednesday, April 28, 2021 - 7:30pm to 8:30pm
Event address: 
Aviary Cover Image
ISBN: 9781571311382
Availability: On Our Shelves Now (Subject to Availability)
Published: Milkweed Editions - April 13th, 2021