The Bird Market of Paris by Nikki Moustaki

birdmarketTHE BIRD MARKET OF PARIS, a memoir by Nikki Moustaki, is a story about birdsong, drunken antics and the promise of Paris. In her youth, Rhode Island reds, Japanese silkies, golden pheasants, homing pigeons and lovebirds were just a few species populating the fantastical world the author shared with her grandfather in their South Miami paradise. Yet by college, Nikki’s obsession with birds, pills and booze would leave her living on the fringe, where blackouts, overdoses, and trips to the emergency room became routine.

In the tradition of Susan Orlean’s THE ORCHID THIEF, THE BIRD MARKET OF PARIS is a sometimes whimsical, sometimes dark look at the world of aviculture. Like Augusten Burroughs’ DRY, she offers up a raw, twisted tale of addiction. In this unforgettable story, Nikki would ultimately find salvation in a childhood pledge, an injured pigeon, and a spectacular aviary within a Willy Wonka-esque Parisian brothel.

Nikki Moustaki is the author of twenty-five books on exotic birds, and has been writing for bird magazines such as Bird Talk and Birds USA for over fifteen years. Her bird books have sold more than 350,000 copies, and her pet magazine articles, columns, and blogs reach over two million readers a month. She is a renowned avian care and behavior consultant and speaker. In the early nineties, Nikki became aware of the bird overpopulation problem, stopped breeding birds, and began helping in rescue efforts. Today, she lives in New York City and hosts several websites including Good Bird ( and The Pet Postcard Project (, a popular grassroots charity project that raises pet food for animal shelters. As you will
see in the proposal, Nikki is incredibly media savvy and has a dynamic social media presence.

Nikki has MA in creative writing and a MFA in fiction from New York University as well as a MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. She is recipient of a 2001 National Endowment for the Arts Grant in poetry, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times, and has been awarded many national prizes for her writing.

Advance Praise for The Bird Market of Paris

“This may be the most original cross-species love story I’ve ever read. Part travelogue, part recovery memoir, and one hundred percent compelling, The Bird Market of Paris is a gorgeously realized exploration of the ineffable bond that links humans and animals.”
—Gwen Cooper, author of New York Times bestselling Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat

“I’ve long been a devotee of Nikki Moustaki’s poetry. Now, her keen eye, deft language, and startling voice shine just as brilliantly in her memoir, The Bird Market of Paris, a work of remarkable honesty, proving the power and exuberance of her prose. The wisdom of an exceptional grandfather, a passion for birds, and the darkness of addiction—all spun together by Moustaki’s gift for finding just the right words, at the right time—give life to this epiphany-provoking gem of a story, skillfully crafted, vivid and rich with feeling.”
—Richard Blanco, Presidential Inaugural Poet and author of The Prince of los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood

“I’ll tell you what’s so good about The Bird Market of Paris, what distinguishes it from the long catalogue of naval-gazing memoirs lining our bookstore shelves. I’ll tell you why it matters. The governing artistic value here is honesty. Nikki Moustaki may want to tell us about her love for and devotion to her Poppy and to her avian friends, and she does a marvelous job at just that, but she tells us something much more important. She tells us about herself and her struggle with alcoholism, her struggle and ultimate victory, and in so doing she tells us all we need to know about courage, dignity, and heroism.”
—John Dufresne, author of No Regrets, Coyote

“Through breathtaking, lyrical prose, Nikki Moustaki bares herself on the page, and renders her coming of age and its uncontainable desires through the surprising metaphor of birds. This debut narrative is a stunning, inspiring, honest, break-your-heart recovery memoir with wings, a triumphant story of the brick-by-brick building of sobriety and of family love.”
—Christa Parravani, author of Her: A Memoir

“No one writes better about birds than Nikki Moustaki. To her, the smallest beating bird heart is full of the same strength and longing that is her own. This astonishing book is the story of Nikki’s growth, fall, and triumph, as she seeks to protect every bird in her path, often while not protecting herself.”
—Deb Olin Unferth, author of Vacation and Revolution

“Nikki Moustaki’s The Bird Market of Paris is a terrific book, a beautiful memoir of a child’s love of birds, instilled in her by a loving grandfather. The love he gave her helps to save her from the oblivion of alcohol.”
—Dan Wakefield, author of the memoirs Returning: A Spiritual Journey and New York in the Fifties

“The Bird Market of Paris is a stunning, exceptional memoir from a woman who truly understands and appreciates birds—who could not resist the warmth of a baby lovebird in her hand, or the poetry in watching eggs turn to baby birds—and who found strength in them to carry her through addiction and heartache. A captivating, heart-warming tale and a delightful, inspiring read.”
—Joanna Burger, author of The Parrot Who Owns Me: The Story of a Relationship