Take Five with . . . Helen Oyeyemi

By Communications Office Mon, June 18, 2007

On the strength of a manuscript of her first novel, The Icarus Girl , author Helen Oyeyemi signed a two-book deal with British publisher Bloomsbury at the age of 19. Having recently graduated from Cambridge University, Oyeyemi is back with her second novel, The Opposite House, a work that "explores the thin wall between myth and reality through the alternating tales of two young women and their search for the truth about faith and identity." In support of her new book, Ms. Oyeyemi will be appearing here at the Central Library’s Montgomery Auditorium tomorrow, Tuesday, June 19 at 7:00 p.m. (This event is free; no tickets required.) She took a few moments to chat with us about some of our favorite topics.

What role have libraries played in your life?

A huge one. Up until I was about seventeen most of the books I read were from libraries. Every other Saturday my dad would take me to the library, and I'd take about two hours to pick seven books...it was anguish to have to leave a book I thought I'd like on the shelf because it over-ran my quota...traumatisin'.

What was your favorite childhood book?

A tie between Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr.

What made you think you could be a writer?

I used to cross out the parts of books that I disagreed with (for example Beth dying in Little Women), and having done that I had to come up with alternatives...so writing began as a small protest against unfair storytelling! Yeah!

Who are the three authors you think everyone should be required to read--which books would you start with?

Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Love in The Time of Cholera), Emily Dickinson (Collected Works), and Daniil Kharms (Incidences).

If you couldn't write, what other job would you like to have?

O please don't laugh...but I'd try to be a librarian.

Helen Oyeyemi
Helen Oyeyemi

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