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Our April Author of the Month: HELEN OYEYEMI

Thursday, Apr 01, 2021 at 9:12am

Helen Oyeyemi is the author of several story collections and novels, including Mr. Fox and Gingerbread, as well as Boy, Snow, Birdwhich was a finalist for the 2014 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She received a 2010 Somerset Maugham Award and a 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and in 2013 she was named one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists. Born in Nigeria and raised in London, England, Oyeyemi now lives in Prague.

> Watch the lovely video greeting Helen Oyeyemi sent us!

Peaces, her newest book, is a vivid and inventive story about a couple forever changed by an unusual train voyage. When Otto and Xavier Shin declare their love, an aunt gifts them a trip on a sleeper train to mark their new commitment — and to get them out of her house. Setting off with their pet mongoose, Otto and Xavier arrive at their sleepy local train station, but quickly deduce that The Lucky Day is no ordinary locomotive. Their trip on this former tea-smuggling train has been curated beyond their wildest imaginations, complete with mysterious and welcoming touches, like ingredients for their favourite breakfast. They seem to be the only people onboard, until Otto discovers a secretive woman who issues a surprising message. As further clues and questions pile up, and the trip upends everything they thought they knew, Otto and Xavier begin to see connections to their own pasts, connections that now bind them together.

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Peaces

- by Helen Oyeyemi

Trade paperback $24.95 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $22.46

The prize-winning, bestselling author of Gingerbread; Boy, Snow, Bird; and What is Not Yours is Not Yours returns with a vivid and inventive new novel about a couple forever changed by an unusual train voyage.

When Otto and Xavier Shin declare their love, an aunt gifts them a trip on a sleeper train to mark their new commitment--and to get them out of her house. Setting off with their pet mongoose, Otto and Xavier arrive at their sleepy local train station, but quickly deduce that The Lucky Day is no ordinary locomotive. Their trip on this former tea-smuggling train has been curated beyond their wildest imaginations, complete with mysterious and welcoming touches, like ingredients for their favourite breakfast. They seem to be the only people onboard, until Otto discovers a secretive woman who issues a surprising message. As further clues and questions pile up, and the trip upends everything they thought they knew, Otto and Xavier begin to see connections to their own pasts, connections that now bind them together.

A spellbinding tale from a star author, Peaces is about what it means to be seen by another person--whether it's your lover or a stranger on a train--and what happens when things you thought were firmly in the past turn out to be right beside you.

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

- by Helen Oyeyemi

Trade paperback $21.00 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $18.90

Finalist for PEN Open Book Award

From the award-winning author of Boy, Snow, Bird and Mr. Fox comes an enchanting and thought-provoking collection of intertwined stories

Playful, ambitious, and exquisitely imagined, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours is cleverly built around the idea of keys, literal and metaphorical. The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret--Oyeyemi's keys not only unlock elements of her characters' lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side. In "Books and Roses" one special key opens a library, a garden, and clues to at least two lovers' fates. "'Sorry' Doesn't Sweeten Her Tea" involves a "house of locks," where doors can be closed only with a key--with surprising, unobservable developments. And in "If a Book Is Locked There's Probably a Good Reason for That Don't You Think," a key keeps a mystical diary locked (for good reason).
     As ever, Oyeyemi's creative vision and storytelling are effervescent, wise, and insightful, and her tales span multiple times and landscapes as they tease boundaries between coexisting realities. Is a key a gate, a gift, or an invitation? What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours captivates as it explores the many possible answers.

Mr. Fox

- by OYEYEMI HELEN

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Reader Reward Price: $18.90

Fairy-tale romances end with a wedding. The fairy tales that don't get more complicated. In this book, 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 sifferently. 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?

Gingerbread

- by Helen Oyeyemi

Trade paperback $24.95 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $22.46

"Exhilarating...A wildly imagined, head-spinning, deeply intelligent novel." -The New York Times Book Review

"[W]ildly inventive...[Helen Oyeyemi's] prose is not without its playful bite." -Vogue

The prize-winning, bestselling author of Boy, Snow, Bird and What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours returns with a bewitching and imaginative novel.


Influenced by the mysterious place gingerbread holds in classic children's stories, the beloved bestselling author of Boy, Snow, Bird and What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours invites readers into a delightfully inventive and bewitching novel about a surprising family legacy, in which the inheritance is a recipe.

Perdita Lee may appear your average British schoolgirl; Harriet Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. For one thing, they share a gold-painted, seventh-floor walk-up apartment with some surprisingly verbal vegetation. And then there's the gingerbread they make. Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it, but it's very popular in Druhástrana, the far away (or, according to many sources, non-existent) land of Harriet Lee's early youth. The world's truest lover of the Lee family gingerbread, however, is Harriet's charismatic childhood friend Gretela--a figure who seems to have had a hand in everything (good or bad) that has happened to Harriet since they met.

Decades later, when teenage Perdita's search for her mother's long-lost friend prompts a new telling of Harriet's story. As the book follows the Lees through encounters with jealousy, ambition, family grudges, work, wealth, and real estate, gingerbread seems to be the one thing that reliably holds a constant value. Endlessly surprising and satisfying, written with Helen Oyeyemi's inimitable style and imagination, Gingerbread is a true feast for the reader.

Boy, Snow, Bird

- by Helen Oyeyemi

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Reader Reward Price: $17.96

As seen on the cover of the New York Times Book Review, where it was described as "gloriously unsettling... evoking Toni Morrison, Haruki Murakami, Angela Carter, Edgar Allan Poe, Gabriel García Márquez, Chris Abani and even Emily Dickinson," and already one of the year's most widely acclaimed novels:

"Helen Oyeyemi has fully transformed from a literary prodigy into a powerful, distinctive storyteller...Transfixing and surprising."--Entertainment Weekly (Grade: A)

"I don't care what the magic mirror says; Oyeyemi is the cleverest in the land...daring and unnerving... Under Oyeyemi's spell, the fairy-tale conceit makes a brilliant setting in which to explore the alchemy of racism, the weird ways in which identity can be transmuted in an instant -- from beauty to beast or vice versa." - Ron Charles, The Washington Post

From the prizewinning author of What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, 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 Arturo Whitman, a local widower, and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow.

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. And even as Boy, Snow, and Bird are divided, their estrangement is complicated by an insistent curiosity about one another. In seeking an understanding that is separate from the image each presents to the world, 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.

Icarus Girl

- by Helen Oyeyemi

Trade paperback $21.00 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $18.90

A sensation among readers around the world, The Icarus Girl is the beautifully written story of eight-year-old Jessamy "Jess" Harrison. Sensitive, whimsical, possessed of a powerful imagination, Jess spends hours writing, reading, or simply hiding in the dark warmth of the airing cupboard. As the child of an English father and a Nigerian mother, Jess just can't shake off the feeling of being alone wherever she goes, and other kids are wary of her terrified fits of screaming. When her parents take her to Nigeria to visit her mother's family, she encounters Titiola, or TillyTilly, a ragged little girl her own age. To Jess, it seems that, at last, she has found someone who will understand her. But gradually TillyTilly's visits become more disturbing, making Jess start to realize that she doesn't know who TillyTilly is at all. A story of twins and ghosts, of a little girl growing up between cultures and colors, this book heralds the arrival of a remarkable new talent.

White is for Witching

- by Helen Oyeyemi

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Reader Reward Price: $16.20

With distinct originality and grace and an extraordinary gift for making the fantastic believable, Helen Oyeyemi spins the politics of family and nation into a riveting and unforgettable mystery. As a child, Miranda Silver developed pica, a rare eating disorder that causes its victims to consume non-edible substances. The death of her mother when Miranda is sixteen exacerbates her condition. And then there's the family house in Dover, England, converted to a bed and breakfast by Miranda's father. Dover has long been known for its hostility toward outsiders. But The Silver House manifests a more conscious malice toward strangers, dispatching those visitors it despises. Enraged by the constant stream of foreign staff and guests, the house finally unleashes its most destructive power.