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The Opposite House: Book summary and reviews of The Opposite House by Helen Oyeyemi

The Opposite House

A Novel

by Helen Oyeyemi

The Opposite House by Helen Oyeyemi X
The Opposite House by Helen Oyeyemi
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  • Published Jun 2007
    288 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Book Summary

Maja was five years old when her black Cuban family emigrated from the Caribbean to London. Now, almost twenty years later, Maja is a singer, in love with Aaron, pregnant, and haunted by what she calls “her Cuba.” Growing up in London, she has struggled to negotiate her history and the sense that speaking Spanish or English made her less of a black girl. But she is unable to find herself in the Ewe, Igbo, or Akum of her roots. It seems all that’s left is silence. Meanwhile distance from Cuba has only deepened Maja’s mother faith in Santeria —the fusion of Catholicism and Western African Yoruba religion—but it also divides the family as her father rails against his wife’s superstitions and the lost dreams of the Castro revolution.

On the other side of the reality wall, Yemaya Saramagua, a Santeria emissary, lives in a somewherehouse with two doors: one opening to London, the other to Lagos. Yemaya is troubled by the ease with which her fellow emissaries have disguised themselves behind the personas of saints and by her inability to recognize them. Lyrical and intensely moving, The Opposite House is about the disquiet that follows us across places and languages, a feeling passed down from mother and father to son and daughter.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[T]he novel's lyrical and stylistic experimentation speaks to Oyeyemi's depth of talent." - PW.

"I read The Opposite House with rare happiness. The voice in it is so sure, the risk it takes is so good and the intelligence in it is a sheer relief." —Ali Smith, author of The Accidental.

This information about The Opposite House was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Helen Oyeyemi Author Biography

Photo: © Manchul Kim

Helen Oyeyemi is the author of the story collection What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, which won the PEN Open Book Award, along with seven novels, including Peaces, Gingerbread, and Boy, Snow, Bird, which was a finalist for the 2014 Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Link to Helen Oyeyemi's Website

Name Pronunciation
Helen Oyeyemi: ooo-yee-yemi

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