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Two neurologists are engaged in divergent quests: one to locate the source of memory and the other to study speech patterns in humans by analyzing and manipulating bird vocalization. Both men use experiments on live songbirds in a laboratory on a university campus, and both become romantically intertwined with a woman lab assistant who takes issue with their methods. Overshadowing this trio are significant figures from their individual pasts—a distant mother, a former girlfriend, a best friend and ornithological expert who dies tragically while conducting field research in the Amazon, and a mentor turned lover and nemesis. This is a subtly layered novel rich in natural description and sense of place that grapples with serious philosophical and moral themes, peopled by characters who must confront the emotional truths in their lives in order to be released from their own, individual cages.
About the Author
Sylvia Torti is the author of The Scorpion’s Tail, winner of the Miguel Marmol Award for first fiction by an American of Latino descent. She holds a Ph.D. in biology and is Research Assistant Professor in biology as well as current Dean of the Honors College at the University of Utah.
"Sylvia Torti’s Cages is a thought-provoking novel about the complexity of birdsong and how it parallels human communication, related with an ardent narrative voice and a studious tone." —Monica Carter, Foreword Reviews
"In this quietly moving second novel, Torti brings together three unmoored characters seeking meaning through science...the migration of these characters toward resolution will reward readers willing to be swept along." —Publishers Weekly
"A masterful book in which curiosity and cruelty twine tight. In this exquisitely researched work of fiction, Torti explores sex and science, memory and forgetting, and how, in laboratory research on living organisms, we often destroy what we love." —Sy Montgomery, author, The Soul of an Octopus, National Book Award Finalist
"At its heart, Cages is a story about humans and how they communicate, but it also contains a great deal of information about how birds communicate as the author details her characters' research." —Steve Larson, Deseret News
"Torti’s writing offers rich enjoyment for birders and photographers who hang around birders. Scientists will get a kick out of a story about doing science that doesn’t pull many punches for the nonscientist and digs into thorny ethical territory." —Michael Sedano, labloga.blogspot.com
Cages by Sylvia Torti named as finalist for 15 byte book award.