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Helen Oyeyemi was born in Nigeria in 1984 and moved to London when she was four. She wrote her first novel, The Icarus Girl while she was still at school studying for her A levels, and she is now a student of Social and Political Sciences at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
Photograph © Mark Pringle
Boy Novak turns 20 and decides to try for a brand-new life. Flax Hill, Massachusetts, isn't exactly a welcoming town, but it does have the virtue of being the last stop on the bus route she took from New York. Flax Hill is also the hometown of Arturo Whitman - craftsman, widower and father of Snow. Snow is mild-mannered, radiant and deeply cherished - exactly the sort of little girl Boy never was, and Boy is utterly beguiled by her. If Snow displays a certain inscrutability at times, that's simply a characteristic she shares with her father, harmless until Boy gives birth to Snow's sister, Bird. When Bird is born, Boy is forced to re-evaluate the image Arturo's family have presented to her and Boy, Snow and Bird are broken apart.
Jess, the eight year old daughter of a Nigerian mother and an English father, feels ostracised but is blessed with a vivid imagination. On holiday in Nigeria she meets a girl of her own age, a kindred spirit, perhaps an imaginary friend or her dead twin. I’m not telling you, suffice to say the relationship takes some interesting twists in a challenging read.Comparison: Zadie Smith, Diana Evans, Donna Daley-Clarke.Similar this month: None but try John Bennett. To view a reading guide for this title click here