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The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi

The Icarus Girl

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Sarah Broadhurst's view...

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

If you like Helen Oyeyemi you might also like to read books by Zadie Smith, Diana Evans and Donna Daley-clarke.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst


The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi

Jessamy Harrison is eight years old. Sensitive, whimsical, possessed of a powerful imagination, she spends hours writing, reading or simply hiding in the dark warmth of the airing cupboard. As the half-and-half child of an English father and a Nigerian mother, Jess just can’t shake off the feeling of being alone wherever she goes, and other kids are wary of her terrified fits of screaming. When she is taken to her mother’s family compound in Nigeria, she encounters Titiola, a ragged little girl her own age. It seems that at last Jess has found someone who will understand her. TillyTilly knows secrets both big and small. But as she shows Jess just how easy it is to hurt those around her, Jess begins to realise that she doesn’t know who TillyTilly is at all.


‘This is a beautiful, haunting story of precocious eight-year-old Jessamy ... This compelling tale of folklore and cultural differences is sure to top the bestseller lists’ Daily Mail

‘An astonishing achievement ... simple, well-drawn characters, crisp dialogue and an enviable grasp of the rudiments of storytelling’ David Robson, Sunday Telegraph

‘The author plays numerous sophisticated games with notions of twinship and identity ... A highly auspicious fictional debut’ Sunday Times

About the Author

Helen Oyeyemi

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

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Book Info

Publication date

6th February 2006


Helen Oyeyemi

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Bloomsbury Publishing Plc


336 pages


Debuts of the Month
Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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