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Helen Oyeyemi

Autor(a) de Boy, Snow, Bird

12+ Works 7,742 Membros 318 Reviews 9 Favorited

About the Author

Helen Oyeyemi was born on December 10, 1984 in Nigeria. She attended Corpus Christie College and later graduated form Cambridge University in 2006. She has authored seven books including: Boy, Snow, Bird, What is Not Yours in Not Yours, Mr. Fox and The Icarus Girl. She won the PEN/Open Book Award mostrar mais in 2017 for "What is Not Yours is Not Yours". (Bowker Author Biography) mostrar menos

Obras de Helen Oyeyemi

Boy, Snow, Bird (2014) 1,818 cópias
White Is for Witching (2009) 1,225 cópias
What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours (2016) 1,184 cópias
Mr. Fox (2011) 1,039 cópias
The Icarus Girl (2005) 953 cópias
Gingerbread (2019) 843 cópias
Peaces (2021) 336 cópias
The Opposite House (2007) 255 cópias

Associated Works

Thus were their faces (2015) — Introdução, algumas edições352 cópias
Furies: Stories of the wicked, wild and untamed (2023) — Contribuinte — 74 cópias
Anonymous Sex (2022) — Contribuinte — 68 cópias
Granta 129: Fate (2014) — Contribuinte — 58 cópias
When Rain Clouds Gather AND Maru (1968) — Introdução, algumas edições40 cópias
African Love Stories: An Anthology (2006) — Contribuinte — 39 cópias
A Cage Went in Search of a Bird: Ten Kafkaesque Stories (2024) — Contribuinte — 7 cópias


Conhecimento Comum



British Author Challenge August 2021: Helen Oyeyemi & Bernard Cornwell em 75 Books Challenge for 2021 (Novembro 2021)


The wicked stepmother is one of the most fundamental tropes of the fairy tale genre, probably most famously exemplified in the stories of Cinderella and Snow White. It is the latter that is subtly retold in Helen Oyeyemi's Boy, Snow, Bird. Boy Novak grows up in New York City with a mercurial, abusive father that she calls only "the rat-catcher", and as soon as she can figure out how, runs away as far as the bus line will take her...which turns out to be small-town Massachusetts. Having left behind her childhood sweetheart, she finds herself drawn to Arturo Whitman, a metal smith and widower with a lovely little daughter named Snow. They marry, and things look promising for a while: Boy finds her stepdaughter charming and delightful and soon falls pregnant herself. But when she gives birth, it changes everything. Her own daughter, Bird, is unmistakably of mixed race, revealing that the Whitman family are actually light-skinned African-Americans passing as white.

Arturo's mysterious sister appears, having been sent away as a child when she turned out dark and threatened the family's secret, and offers to take Bird. But Boy doesn't want to part from her own child. Instead, she finds herself increasingly haunted by the adoration lavished on fair-complected Snow by everyone, including the Whitman family, compared to the treatment Bird receives...so Snow is sent away instead. As Bird grows up, she and her sister begin a correspondence, and a piece of Boy's past, long since left behind, draws nearer with revelations which could threaten the life she's built for herself.

I'd previously read Oyeyemi's short story collection What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours and very much enjoyed the way she played with themes, the multiple levels she was operating on at the same time, her richly evocative language. I found many of the same qualities in this novel, and thought Oyeyemi's take on the pervasive issue of race in America was interesting, as she's a black woman but not American. I appreciated the way she subverted expectations by building to what you think is going to be the moment where Boy turns against her stepdaughter by having her inflict the emotional cruelty of exile rather than the usual depiction of verbal and physical abuse. Oyeyemi is a skilled storyteller, and ably walks the line between a story that's interesting and pleasurable to read without sacrificing richer layers of meaning that push you to think. But that ending was...woah.

I'm not going to reveal the ending, even though it had a huge impact on my response to the book as a whole. But I also can't avoid talking about it, because it honestly made me think less of the book because of the way it played out. Oyeyemi places a huge, game-changing detail about a character in the last 5-10 pages of the book, barely giving the others time to react to it. The elicited reaction by the other characters doesn't feel quite earned, but the way that this reveal is made, and the details surrounding it are what really bothered me. In particular, I thought it played into problematic stereotypes about a marginalized community. Either way it was a major plot development and placing it where she did in the book was not effective. I thought I'd be able to recommend this book enthusiastically, but while I do still think it's a good book and worth reading, I'm not quite as sure about it as I might have been.
… (mais)
ghneumann | outras 110 resenhas | Jun 14, 2024 |
As a reader, I'm very reluctant to step outside my usual comfort zones of historical and literary fiction or nonfiction. Which is why the first book I read for my book club was a stretch for me: Helen Oyeyemi's What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours is a collection of short stories. At the time I read it, I didn't have a single other collection of short stories on my shelf, as it's not a format I generally enjoy. But we all benefit from a step outside the old comfort zone every once in a while, eh?

Honestly, I found the book more interesting than enjoyable. This is my first taste of Oyeyemi (although her well-regarded Boy, Snow, Bird is on my shelf, I haven't read it yet) and she's a powerful, talented writer. Most of the stories (but not all) are loosely interconnected...characters introduced in one have a way of showing up in others, but it's like a kaleidoscope in a way: the same pieces getting combined in different ways to create a whole new view. The boundaries of the world she creates in each story are all slightly different, so it doesn't feel cohesive despite the repeating characters and even the repeating motifs.

Possession and belonging, doors and keys, transition and fluidity are all over the stories in What Is Not Yours. Some of the stories really manage to develop these themes in interesting ways that feel complete, but for my money, this was maddeningly inconsistent. There was only one story I didn't like at all, but several of them felt unfinished and slightly underdone to me. Which is why I don't usually read short stories...when they're very good, they're amazing, but when they are anything less than great I find them mostly frustrating. I like immersing myself in the characters and setting of a book, so I find the constant change in setting and characters that short stories bring to be jarring. Most of the stories in this collection were good but not quite there for me...I wanted more from them, and from this book as a whole.
… (mais)
ghneumann | outras 34 resenhas | Jun 14, 2024 |
I was mesmerized for the first half of the book: Fantastic story, beautiful writing. And then - I don't know what happened. A profound change in the plot and focus of the book that wore me down. I found myself dreading picking it up again, and so about 3/4 of the way I just gave up.
Eliz12 | outras 110 resenhas | Jun 1, 2024 |
I loved this book so, so much, until I reached the ending which has PROBLEMS.
Amateria66 | outras 110 resenhas | May 24, 2024 |


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