Weird & Wonderful is our monthly celebration of the weird--be it science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, magical realism, or any genre otherwise strange.
This month the club will be discussing What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi.
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. In “Is Your Blood as Red as This?” an unlikely key opens the heart of a student at a puppeteering school. “‘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).
“Oyeyemi so expertly melds the everyday, the fantastic and the eternal, we have to ask if the line between ‘real’ and ‘unreal’ is murkier than we imagined—or to what extent a line exists at all. . . The deeper one descends into the fabulist warrens of these stories, the more mystery and menace abound, and with each story I had the delightful and rare experience of being utterly surprised. . . Transcendent.” —The New York Times Book Review
“It is, in a word, flawless. . . Oyeyemi seems to be incapable of writing anything that's not wholly original. . . Oyeyemi manages to make the story both realistic and fantastical, and the characters are rendered with grace and compassion. . . [What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours] is a lot of things: dreamy, spellbinding, and unlike just about anything you can imagine. It's a book that resists comparisons; Oyeyemi's talent is as unique as it is formidable.” —NPR, Michael Schaub
Helen Oyeyemi is the author of the story collection What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours along with five novels—most recently Boy, Snow, Bird, which 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. In 2013, she was named one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists.