It appears you are using an older browser. This site is optimized for modern browsers.
To get more out of your browsing experience upgrade your browser.

Adamic · Adichie · Alexander · Ali · Allen · Allende · Appiah · Asch · Bahnimptewa · Baldry · Banks · Bartlett · Baughman · Beckwith · Bell · Berlin · Berry · Blight · Braithwaite · Branch · Breytenbach · Bronfenbrenner · Brooks · Brown · Brown · Bunche · Carter · Carter · Cayton · Chase · Chin · Cisneros · Clifton · Cofer · Cohn · Coles · Collier · Collins · Conroy · Dahlstrom · Danticat · Davidson · Davies · Davis · Dawidowicz · Dean · Deloria Jr. · Demby · Derricotte · Díaz · Dinnerstein · Dobzhansky · Downs · Drake · Duguid · Dumond · Dunn · Edugyan · Ellison · Eltis · Erdrich · Fabre · Faderman · Fernandes · Field · Fineberg · Fisher · Fladeland · Foxx · Franch · Franklin · Frazier · Fredrickson · Freyre · Furnas · Gaines · Gates Jr. · Genovese · Gibbons · Gibbs · Gimbutas · Girdner · Glazer · Gloria · Gordimer · Gordon · Gordon-Reed · Gosnell · Graham · Graham · Greene · Griffin · Haddon · Haley · Haller Jr. · Hamid · Harris · Hayes, ed. · Hedden · Hersey · Highwater · Hilberg · Holmes · Honour · Huddleston · Hughes · Hunt · Hurston · Huxley · Infeld · Isaacs · Jackson · James · Jess · Johnson · Jones · Jones · Jordan · Jordan Jr. · July · Kahler · Kelley · Kendrick · Kennedy · Kibbe · Kiernan · Kincaid · King Jr. · Kingston · Kluger · Kozol · Krauss · Laming · Le · LeBlanc · Lee · Lee · Lepore · Levine · Lewis · Lewis · Lewis · Leyburn · Lipsitz · Loftis · Lomax · Loye · Lurie · Mabee · Mahajan · Marra · Marshall · Matejka · McBride · McPherson · Meeker · Mensh · Mensh · Mokgatle · Morris · Morris Jr. · Morrison · Mosley · Mowat · Moynihan · Murray · Myrdal · Nelli · Nelson · North · Olson · Ottley · Parks · Patai · Paton · Patterson · Phillips · Poliakov · Powell · Power · Powers · Rainwater · Rampersad · Richardson · Robinson · Rodriguez · Rosen · Sachar · Sachs · Said · Saitoti · Sams · Samuel · Saunders · Scheinfeld · Seibert · Shamsie · Shavit · Sheehy · Shepherd Jr. · Shetterly · Silver · Simpson · Smith · Smith · Snyder · Solomon · South African Institute of Race Relations · Soyinka · Staples · Stefaniak · Stegner with the editors of Look · Steiner · Sutton · Suyin · Takaki · Thernstrom · Tobias, ed. · Toole · Tucker · van der Post · Vazirani · Walcott · Wallace · Waniek · Ward · Weglyn · West · Whitehead · Wideman · Wilkerson · Wilson · Wilson · Winfrey · Wing · Wood · Wright · Wright · Wyman · X · Yinger

Kevin Powers

The Yellow Birds

Little, Brown & Co.

2013 Fiction

The Yellow Birds is a scalding first book that pivots on the last weeks of friendship between 18-year-old Private Daniel Murphy and 21-year-old Private John Bartle, who makes a rash promise to Mrs. Murphy to bring her son home safely from Iraq. Writer Kevin Powers, who joined the Army at age 17 and served as a machine gunner in Iraq, creates a tightly focused, hypnotic story that spirals around his central character’s isolation. Powers has created a piercing portrayal of war.

Kevin Powers was born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of a factory worker and a postman. He has said he enlisted in the Army as a teen-ager for “practical reasons”: the GI bill, and “all my male role models had served.” After his honorable discharge, he enrolled in Virginia Commonwealth University, where he graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor's degree in English. He holds an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a Michener Fellow in Poetry.

In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, Powers explained why he wrote The Yellow Birds: “One of the reasons … was the idea that people kept saying: ‘What was it like over there?’ It seemed that it was not an information-based problem. There was lots of information around. But what people really wanted was to know what it felt like; physically, emotionally and psychologically.”

Contribute to this Biography

If you have a missing or improved portrait or book cover, please email us at Correction@Anisfield-Wolf.org





* Required

Blog Posts about Kevin Powers

New Poetry Collection From Kevin Powers Places War's Aftermath In Verse

“Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting” publishes this week, the first collection of poetry from Anisfield-Wolf fiction winner Kevin Powers. Here is the title poem: I tell her I love her like not killing or ten minutes of sleep beneath the low rooftop wall on which my rifle rests. I tell her in a letter that will stink, when she opens it, of bolt oil and burned powder and the things it says. I tell her that Private Bartle says, offhand, that war is just us making little pieces of metal pass through each other. Powers... Read More →

VIDEO: Kevin Powers, Author of The Yellow Birds, On Winning The 2013 Anisfield-Wolf Award

Kevin Powers' The Yellow Birds has been called a "beautiful and horrifying trance of a book," an unnerving look at the cruelty and arbitrary nature of war. He spoke with us in the calm before this year's ceremony, happy to accept the award that in recent years has gone to Junot Diaz, Louise Erdrich, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Hear his remarks below:  Kevin Powers On Winning A 2013 Anisfield-Wolf Award For Fiction from Anisfield Wolf on Vimeo. Read More →

Veterans Flock To Kevin Powers' Message Of Resiliency And Courage At CWRU Event

Kevin Powers didn’t flinch when the novelist Thrity Umrigar asked him a pointed question—had he considered incorporating substantial Iraqi characters in his much-honored novel “The Yellow Birds”? Power’s first book, an impressionist portrayal of combat and its consequences during the Iraq War, won an Anisfield-Wolf book prize this year for fiction. The National Book Award cited it as “an urgent, vital, beautiful novel that reminds us through its scrupulous honesty how rarely its anguished truths are told.” Umrigar, a professor... Read More →

Meet Kevin Powers, 2013 Winner For Fiction

The road home from war is a long journey to rediscover who you are. Author Kevin Powers, who signed up for the Army at 17 and spent time as a machine gunner in Iraq in 2004 and 2005, wrote his award-winning novel, The Yellow Birds, as a way to help him process what he had experienced on the front lines.  "I started initially writing poems about the war," he said during an interview with PBS NewsHour. "I've been writing poems and stories since I was about 13. And I realized that I needed a larger canvas to say what I wanted to say, to answer... Read More →

Meet Our 2013 Winners!

Laird Hunt The jury has spoken and five new authors will join the Anisfield-Wolf family. Our 2013 winners are:  Laird Hunt, Kind One, Fiction Kevin Powers, The Yellow Birds, Fiction Eugene Gloria, My Favorite Warlord, Poetry Andrew Solomon, Far From the Tree, Nonfiction Wole Soyinka, Lifetime Achievement “The 2013 Anisfield-Wolf winners are exemplars who broaden our vision of race and diversity,” said Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who chairs the jury. “This year, there is exceptional writing about the war in Iraq, slavery on a... Read More →
↑ Back to Top