Dirty Birds

By (author) Morgan Murray
Categories: Humorous fiction, Fiction and Related items, Satirical fiction and parodies
Publisher: Breakwater Books
Paperback : 9781550818079, 432 pages, July 2020


Hilariously ironic and irreverent, in Dirty Birds, Morgan Murray generates a quest novel for the twenty-first century—a coming-of-age, rom-com, crime-farce thriller—where a hero’s greatest foe is his own crippling mediocrity as he seeks purpose in art, money, power, crime, and sleeping in all day.
“Canadians rejoice! Our Vonnegut has finally arrived! Morgan Murray’s debut is a great, brawling, sprawling, muscular glory of a story. Funny, dark, and wholly original. ” —Will Ferguson


  • Short-listed, Margaret and John Savage First Book Award, Fiction Category 2021
  • Long-listed, Canada Reads 2021
  • Winner, APMA Best Atlantic Published Book Award 2021
  • Short-listed, Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour 2021
  • Winner, Foreword INDIES Humour Award, Silver Medal 2020
  • Short-listed, Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award 2021
  • Long-listed, The Relit Award 2021
  • Winner, IPPY: Independent Voice Award 2022
  • Long-listed, The Globe and Mail Summer's Hottest Reads 2021


Dirty Birds is a whip-smart, structurally coherent romp that dresses its satire in the weeds of comic mayhem. "

- Richard Cumyn

"One of the most fun and dynamic aspects of the book is Morgan’s facility with different dialogues. These include, but are not limited to, the matrix of the prairie junior hockey structure, the non-stop conversation of a Newfoundland taxi driver, academic papers, police files, and, most prominently, Milton’s poetry. These are often decoded and/or annotated in footnotes, a comedic amplification that’s an effective and refreshing device in this fiction. There’s work and care in the writing; the experiences, however foolish, feel earned. At the same time it’s kinetic: the words, like birds, take flight. "

- Joan Sullivan

"This book would make a great Canadian film starring Michael Cera. Refreshingly backlit with the nostalgia of Obama era planet Earth, riffing on a myriad of contemporary themes including intergenerational tensions and anxieties, global economic frailty and the pursuit of young desire, Dirty Birds is the perfect misfit read for your next layaway, or when you’re down to your last shot of whisky. It provides days’ worth of warm, weird feelings. "

- Nathaniel G. Moore

Dirty Birds is absurd and tender, familiar and bizarre, and completely unforgettable. ”

- Jean Graham

Dirty Birds is an absurd novel about absurd subcultures of artists, grad students, and adultescents that author Morgan Murray explores with both laugh-out-loud lunacy and scathing insight. ”

- Ian Rogers

"If you ever feel you’re in the mood for something completely absurd, out of this world (but in it), something that will make you laugh, wonder what the heck is going on, and reflect on the author’s wild imagination, Dirty Birds is your book."

- Naomi

Dirty Birds: one of the funniest things I’ve read since I took home my grade 4 report card.”

- D.R. The Book Guy

"Satirical, clever... unrestrained and funny, Dirty Birds, is a great read."

- Atlantic Book Reviews

“Canadians rejoice! Our Vonnegut has finally arrived! Morgan Murray’s debut is a great, brawling, sprawling, muscular glory of a story. Funny, dark, and wholly original.”

- Will Ferguson, winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize

"Morgan Murray’s Dirty Birds is the delightful, literary, hoser middle ground between A Series Of Unfortunate Events and Jackass. The story of Milton Ontario’s poetic aspirations spans over 500 nonsensical pages and, even though you won’t understand a word Noddy or Georgette or Jerry or Gerry is saying, I promise you won’t be bored... this is an impressive debut novel that knows when to joke and when to deliver some actually poetic inner monologue. I can’t wait to see what Murray comes up with next."

- Joan Sullivan

"The narrative voice in Dirty Birds reminds me a bit of the dry comic you find reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, only this unfortunate protagonist, named Milton Ontario, (not to be confused with Milton, Ontario) journeys from Bellybutton, Saskatchewan to live in a dirty closet he found on Craigslist - dans le metropolis of Montreal... All so he can be a poet like his hero, Leonard Cohen. Morgan Murray fills his pages with dialogue spoken in hilarious Canadian vernacular, something that so rarely meets the page in popular fiction, interspersed with his own black and white illustrations, and the most epic footnotes detailing facts from Canada's history the way you wish you had heard them in high school."

- Ian Rogers

“A vast, fantastic and original book, not to mention utterly hilarious. The kind of book you'll devour and then wish you hadn’t read it so quickly, but happily, you can start it all over again! Definitely one of my top ten books of 2020.

I loved this: “‪Make the world bigger by your being in it. ... the way you pour yourself out into the world to quench another’s thirst, the way you exist and the way you persist.” Words to live by.”

- Jean Graham