Next Author: Ruth Ozeki
Previous Author: Robin D. Owens

Helen Oyeyemi

Helen Oyeyemi(1984- )
Helen Oyeyemi, was born in Nigeria and raised in London. She wrote her widely acclaimed first novel, The Icarus Girl, before her nineteenth birthday; she graduated from Cambridge University in 2006. Her second novel, The Opposite House, was a nominee for the 2008 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.

White Is for Witching: Haunting and poetic

Readers’ average rating:

White Is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

White Is for Witching blends gothic horror, racial politics, and the older, bloodier sort of fairy tales into a deeply unsettling novel. The story opens with a passage intentionally reminiscent of "Snow White," describing the mysterious imprisonment? disappearance? death? of the heroine, Miranda Silver. From there, we move backward in time, to the point when the events leading to Miranda's fate began.

The story is told from several points of view, all of them seeing events from different perspectives, all of them possibly unreliable narrators. Miranda herself, her brother Eliot, her lover Ore, and her ancestral home all have their own versions to tell as the plot unfolds.

The house looms as the center of Miranda's tale. Menacing and xenophobic, it desires control over the people it considers its own, and me... Read More

More books by Helen Oyeyemi

Helen Oyeyemi The Icarus Girl, The Opposite House, White is for WitchingThe Icarus Girl — (2005) Publisher: ‘Stop looking to belong, half-and-half child. Stop. There is nothing, there is only me, and I have caught you.’ Jessamy Harrison is eight years old. Sensitive, whimsical, possessed of an extraordinary and powerful imagination, she spends hours writing haikus, reading Shakespeare, or simply hiding in the dark warmth of the airing cupboard. As the half-and-half child of an English father and a Nigerian mother, Jess just can’t shake the feeling of being alone wherever she goes, and the other kids in her class are wary of her tendency to succumb to terrified fits of screaming. When she is taken to her mother’s family compound in Nigeria for the first time, she meets her uncles and aunts and cousins — and her formidable old grandfather. Then one day, in the deserted Boys’ Quarters, she encounters Titiola, a ragged little girl her own age. It seems that at last Jess has found another outsider who will understand her. TillyTilly knows secrets both big and small, and some she won’t reveal. But as Tilly shows Jess just how easy it is to hurt those around her, Jess begins to realise that she doesn’t know who TillyTilly is at all. Lyrical, poetic and compelling, The Icarus Girl is a novel of twins, doubles and ghosts, of a little girl growing up between cultures and colours. It heralds the arrival of a remarkable new talent.


Helen Oyeyemi The Icarus Girl, The Opposite House, White is for WitchingThe Opposite House — (2007) Publisher: Maja Carmen Carrerra, the daughter of a black Cuban couple, was only five years old when the family emigrated to London. Growing up, she speaks the Spanish of her native land and the English of her adopted country, but longs for a connection to her African roots. Now in her early twenties, Maja is haunted by thoughts of Cuba and the desire to make sense of the threads of her history. Maja’s mother has found comfort in Santeria — a faith that melds Catholic saints and the Yoruba gods of West African religion. Her involvement with Santeria, however, divides the family as Maja’s father rails against his wife’s superstitions and the lost dreams of the Castro revolution. Maja’s narrative is one of two parallel voices in Oyeyemi’s beautifully wrought novel. Yemaya Saramagua speaks from the other side of the reality wall — in the Somewherehouse, which has two doors, one opening to London, the other to Lagos. A Yoruban goddess, Yemaya is troubled by the ease with which her fellow gods have disguised themselves as saints and reappeared under different names and faces. As Maja and Yemaya move closer to understanding themselves, they realize that the journey to discovering where home truly lies is at once painful and exhilarating.


Helen Oyeyemi Mr. FoxMr. Fox — (2011) Publisher: From a prizewinning young writer, a brilliant and inventive story of love, lies, and inspiration. Fairy-tale romances end with a wedding, and the fairy tales don’t get complicated. In this book, the celebrated writer Mr. Fox can’t stop himself from killing off the heroines of his novels, and neither can his wife, Daphne. It’s not until Mary, his muse, comes to life and transforms him from author into subject that his story begins to unfold differently. Mary challenges Mr. Fox to join her in stories of their own devising; and in different times and places, the two of them seek each other, find each other, thwart each other, and try to stay together, even when the roles they inhabit seem to forbid it. Their adventures twist the fairy tale into nine variations, exploding and teasing conventions of genre and romance, and each iteration explores the fears that come with accepting a lifelong bond. Meanwhile, Daphne becomes convinced that her husband is having an affair, and finds her way into Mary and Mr. Fox’s game. And so Mr. Fox is offered a choice: Will it be a life with the girl of his dreams, or a life with an all-too-real woman who delights him more than he cares to admit? The extraordinarily gifted Helen Oyeyemi has written a love story like no other. Mr. Fox is a magical book, endlessly inventive, as witty and charming as it is profound in its truths about how we learn to be with one another.


fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsBoy, Snow, Bird — (2014) Publisher: From the prizewinning author of Mr. Fox, the Snow White fairy tale brilliantly recast as a story of family secrets, race, beauty, and vanity. In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty — the opposite of the life she’s left behind in New York. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman. A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she’d become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy’s daughter, Bird, who is dark-skinned, exposes the Whitmans as light-skinned African Americans passing for white. Among them, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold. Dazzlingly inventive and powerfully moving, Boy, Snow, Bird is an astonishing and enchanting novel. With breathtaking feats of imagination, Helen Oyeyemi confirms her place as one of the most original and dynamic literary voices of our time.


CLICK HERE FOR MORE BY HELEN OYEYEMI.