The Peregrine by J.A.Baker



I was at a dinner last week in Zurich after the opening of the World Press Photo Award exhibition hosted by my friends at Keystone. During the dinner I asked my companions if they had any suggestions for one thing – perhaps a book, a work of art, a musical arrangement –  I should experience in my life that was familiar to them but not to me. I offered The Peregrine by JA Baker.

“From fall to spring, J.A. Baker set out to track the daily comings and goings of a pair of peregrine falcons across the flat fen lands of eastern England. He followed the birds obsessively, observing them in the air and on the ground, in pursuit of their prey, making a kill, eating, and at rest, activities he describes with an extraordinary fusion of precision and poetry. And as he continued his mysterious private quest, his sense of human self slowly dissolved, to be replaced with the alien and implacable consciousness of a hawk. It is this extraordinary metamorphosis, magical and terrifying, that these beautifully written pages record.”

The suggestions I received back were varied, beautiful and thoughtful and included, a 9ft Stewart surfboard, a painting by Leonardo da Vinci, a work of Swiss fiction – more on that list when I have experienced them all.