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Helen Oyeyemi Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Icarus Girl (2005) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Opposite House (2007) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
White Is for Witching (2009) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Mr Fox (2011) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Boy, Snow, Bird (2014) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Collections

Juniper's Whitening / Victimese (2005) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The BBC National Short Story Award 2010 (with David Constantine, Aminatta Forna, Sarah Hall and Jon McGregor) (2010) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle


Helen Oyeyemi is a British author of Nigerian origin born on 10 December 1984 and specializes in general fiction writing. Born in Nigeria, her family moved to London when she was only four. Her very first writing was a novel by the name The Icarus Girl that she wrote while studying for her A-level while studying at Cardinal Vaughan Memorial school.

The performance of her two plays Victims and Juniper’s Whitening by her fellow students while at Corpus Christi College received positive reviews, which highly motivated her. Methuen later published the plays.

Helen Oyeyemi has authored five different books; The Icarus Girl was released in 2005. Later in 2007, her second book The Opposite House was released after being published by Bloomsbury. White is for Witching is her second novel and was published by Picador in 2009. In June 2011, her third book Mr. Fox was released. Boy, Snow, Bird was her fifth published in 2014. Helen Oyeyemi latest book, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours was published in 2016.

Awards and recognition

Helen Oyeyemi third novel, White Is For Witching was a finalist in Shirley Jackson Award in 2009, and the same book won Somerset Maugham Award in 2010. She received recognition as one of the Venus Zines 25 under 25. Oyeyemi was listed as one of the Granta Best of Young British Novelist. In 2014, her fifth novel Boy, Snow, Bird made finalist in the Los Angeles Time Book Prize.

In 2015, she made it as a judge for the Booktrust Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. She also served as a judge during the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Description of previous books

The Icarus Girl- is a story of an eight-year-old girl haunted by her family secrets, imaginary friend, and two cultures that she cannot escape. Oyeyemi debut novel received positive reviews shortly after her 19th birthday. In this thrilling novel, Oyeyemi describes a story of Jessamy Harrison, a daughter of a British Father and a Nigerian Mother. Audacious and alone, the main protagonist finds the world too fast and expectant for her. Jessamy seems to be a troubled girl; she has problems eating in front of strangers, she is a victim of constant bullies at school, which forces her to take refuge in cupboards. On her first visit to Nigeria, Jessamy meets TillyTilly- a friend with magical powers but does not want to be discovered. Back at home Jessamy is sick; she is a victim of bullying at school again. She is happy when TillyTilly reappears again, but who is TillyTilly? Jess begins to suspect that her treasured friend is not real. However, Jess imaginary friend’s reveals to her that she had a twin sister named Fern who was born stillborn. Jess begins to realize the potential powers and destruction of her imaginary friend. The intervention of Jess parents to the mayhem causes TillyTilly to make Jess father ill. Further interventions are made, and a psychologist is called in. Unfortunately the magical Jess can clearly see through the doctor techniques- in response, TillyTilly harms the psychologist daughter Shivs. The Icarus Girl is written from Jess point of view and ends in efforts in Nigeria to mend Jess three worlds- the real world, the “Bush” and the spiritual world.

The Opposite House- may not be the first novel to suggest that migration is not an event but a condition, but may be the first to indicate that the condition besets the gods more than anyone. The novel storyline begins in a somewhere house in a quiet environment where even the birds themselves are afraid. The house is home to Yemaya Saramagua, a manifestation of Yoruba goddess who has traveled together with her followers to various destinations in the world inclusive of Cuba where she plays a key role in Santería religion. The somewherehouse has two doors one leading to London and the other one to Lagos.

Maja, a 25-year-old singer, is London, her family moved to London when she was only seven years old. It is over 20 years since she moved to London and now she is pregnant with Aaron baby. She is haunted by the fact that her roots her deeply implanted in Cuba despite growing up in London. Her feelings of displacement intensify each day, and this is much contributed by her personal hysteria to the point that her Ghanaian Husband Aaron begins to worry about his wife and her advancing pregnancy.

The distance from Cuba only intensifies Maja’s mother faith in Cuban religion-Santeria- a combination of Western Africa Yoruba and Catholicism. The length also seems to divide Maja’s family as her father appears to be against his wife supernatural beliefs.

So what is the relationship between Yemaya and Maja? Could one be a manifestation of the other release from the real world or are the two in a drift condition? The author, Oyeyemi makes rich use of Yoruba goddess in Cuba; and the only means the gods could survive in the Catholic country was only in disguise.

White is for Witching- in a mysterious cliff in Dover, a family is coming to terms with the recent turn of events. Lily- a photojournalist is murdered during an assignment in Haiti, and her twins, Eliot and Miranda together with her husband mourn her absence with pain, and all is not well.

Miranda known as Miri suffers from a disorder that makes her crave for foreign objects. The house located next to a cemetery full of unmarked graves has some spirits of its own and even scares all the hired housekeepers. However, this changes when a Yoruba housekeeper is hired- she is not afraid of the ghost stories. In fact, she stays when Miri leaves for college and when her brother goes to South Africa for an internship. The novel focus shifts to Ore- an African adoptee who befriends Miri. The subplots rarely advance to the main plot nor do they refer in any way to Miri’s life but somehow touch on the attack on Kosovan refugees and the violence at an Immigration Removal Centre. The novel theme focuses on displacement both personal and cultural and Miris condition provides a hint on how the themes relate. Could England be rejecting its foreign population?

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