“Two hungry people should never make friends. If they do, they eat each other up. It is the same with one person who is hungry and another who is full: they cannot be real, real friends because the hungry one will eat the full one. You understand?”

― Helen OyeyemiThe Icarus Girl

helen oyeyemiCountry: Nigeria

Why We Love Her:  Helen Oyeyemi was an actual wunderkind; writing her first novel, The Icarus Girl in high school, while writing her A-Levels. Its depth belied her years as it drew on Nigerian mythology, the rawness of childhood emotions and experiences of cultural displacement.

She expanded into playwriting and the performances of her plays, “Victmese” and “Juniper’s Whitening”, were met with acclaim. As have her other novels, The Opposite House and White is For Witching which won the Somerset Maugham Award. Oyeyemi’s strength lies in her unusual plots and characters coupled with the ability to balance genre and literary fiction.

“The first coffee of the morning is never, ever, ready quickly enough. You die before it’s ready and then your ghost pours the resurrection potion out of the moka pot.”
― Helen OyeyemiBoy, Snow, Bird: A Novel


Her writing is always interesting because of the layering of worlds, identities and even time periods within it. Oyeyemi’s two most recent offerings, Boy, Snow, Bird and Mr. Fox have a hint of fairytale or folklore about them and manage to be disturbing and touching at the same time. Helen’s so young and has already published so many good books. We look forward to reading whatever her inventive mind comes up with next.


“Insofar as a purely transient construction of flesh and blood can remember (or foretell) what it is to be stone, Lucy understood the mountain’s wish to listen at the window of a den of gamblers and be warmed by all that free-floating hope and desolation.”
― Helen OyeyemiWhat Is Not Yours Is Not Yours


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