The Conference of the Birds

The Conference of the Birds. Peter Sis. 2011, Penguin Press, 978-1-59420-306-0.

This exquisite illustrated book for adults conveys a spiritual message of unity within diversity, where a group of distinct characters go through an arduous journey only to arrive at an inherent realization that they were equal parts of a whole all along.  Peter Sis, an award-winning children’s-book illustrator, has created a masterpiece of visual music in his first work for adults. An adaptation of the eponymous epic poem Mantiq al-Tayr, written in 12th-century Persia by Farid al-Din Attar, it portrays the perilous journey by all the birds of the world to find their king, a legendary bird called the Simurgh who will free them from their troubles. Only 30 birds reach the realm of the Simurgh (a word meaning “30 birds” in Persian), behind seven treacherous valleys and Mount Qaf --where they realize that they themselves are the object of their search. The story unfolds on high-quality, textured pages which give the feeling of an original artwork. Sis’s insightfully abridged and brilliantly illustrated work captures the essence of the original poem and enriches it with dreamlike landscapes and intricate patterns that invite readers to embark on their individual journeys towards unity. ―ELIF M. GOKCIGDEM


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