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The Death of Vivek Oji: Book summary and reviews of The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

The Death of Vivek Oji

by Akwaeke Emezi

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi X
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2020
    256 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

What does it mean for a family to lose a child they never really knew?

One afternoon, in a town in southeastern Nigeria, a mother opens her front door to discover her son's body, wrapped in colorful fabric, at her feet. What follows is the tumultuous, heart-wrenching story of one family's struggle to understand a child whose spirit is both gentle and mysterious. Raised by a distant father and an understanding but overprotective mother, Vivek suffers disorienting blackouts, moments of disconnection between self and surroundings. As adolescence gives way to adulthood, Vivek finds solace in friendships with the warm, boisterous daughters of the Nigerwives, foreign-born women married to Nigerian men. But Vivek's closest bond is with Osita, the worldly, high-spirited cousin whose teasing confidence masks a guarded private life. As their relationship deepens—and Osita struggles to understand Vivek's escalating crisis—the mystery gives way to a heart-stopping act of violence in a moment of exhilarating freedom.

Propulsively readable, teeming with unforgettable characters, The Death of Vivek Oji is a novel of family and friendship that challenges expectations—a dramatic story of loss and transcendence that will move every reader.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"The author of the young adult novel Pet, a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award, offers another exploration of gender identity, this time for adults...Vividly written and deeply affecting." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"The plaudits for Emezi's first novel, Freshwater (NYPL Young Lions, Lambda Literary, and Center for Fiction's First Novel honors), did not overstate the case. Following Pet, a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, this achingly beautiful probe into the challenges of living fully as a nonbinary human being, is an illuminating read." - Library Journal (starred review)

"While Emezi leans on clichés ("hit me in the chest like a lorry") and two-dimensional supporting characters, they offer sharp observations about the cost of transphobia and homophobia, and about the limits of honesty in their characters' lives. Despite a few bumps, this is a worthy effort." - Publishers Weekly

"Electrifying." - O: The Oprah Magazine

"A testament to Emezi's immense literary prowess." - Elle

"Although Akwaeke Emezi introduces us to Vivek Oji in death...it is his life that will resonate with readers, long after they've turned this book's final page." - Refinery29

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Author Information

Akwaeke Emezi Author Biography

Photo: © Beowulf Sheehan

Akwaeke Emezi makes their young adult debut with Pet on the inaugural Make Me a World list (an imprint of Random House). An honoree on the National Book Foundation's "5 Under 35" list, a long-list nominee for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence, and a short-list nominee for the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize, Akwaeke continues to receive accolades for their adult debut, Freshwater. The autobiographical novel also received rave reviews from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, and the Los Angeles Times, among others, as well as starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist. Their sophomore adult novel, The Death of Vivek Oji, is forthcoming in 2020 from Riverhead.

Link to Akwaeke Emezi's Website

Name Pronunciation
Akwaeke Emezi: a-quake-ay em-ezi

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