"Transcendent." —The New York Times Book Review
"Flawless. . . another masterpiece from an author who seems incapable of writing anything that's less than brilliant." —NPR
From the award-winning author of Boy, Snow, Bird and 2019's Gingerbread comes an enchanting collection of intertwined stories.
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’s tales span multiple times and landscapes as they tease boundaries between coexisting realities. Is a key a gate, a gift, or an invitation? What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours captivates as it explores the many possible answers.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
An iBooks Best of 2016 pick. Reading this extraordinary collection of short stories is like entering a dreamland of labyrinths, magic, and dark secrets. Helen Oyeyemi, the author of the haunting Boy, Snow, Bird, threads together real-world concerns like celebrity crushes and unrequited love with ghostly specters and eerie folklore. Every time we picked up What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, the real world fell away. Oyeyemi gives us the chills—both the conventional kind and the kind that come from encountering a major and singular talent.
In her first story collection, Oyeyemi (Boy, Snow, Bird) conjures present-day Europe, made enticingly strange by undercurrents of magic, and populated by ghosts, sentient puppets, and possible witches alongside middle-aged psychiatrists, tyrants, and feminist undergrads. Loosely linked by a theme of keys and doors, many of the stories feature female protagonists discovering their sexuality or coming into their own. In " Sorry' Doesn't Sweeten Her Tea," 14-year-old Aisha and Tyche, her father's colleague, send the goddess Hecate to torment teen idol Matyas F st for beating a prostitute; in "A Brief History of the Homely Wench Society," Aisha's sister, Dayang, is a member of a women's society at Cambridge University, waging a good-natured war against the Bettencourt Society, a rival all-male club. "Drownings" is an allegorical tale set in a dictatorship where citizens are "drowned in the gray marshlands deep in the heart of the country." "Dornicka and the St. Martin's Day Goose" is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, draw on Eastern European history and lore. And in "Presence," a married couple in London undergo a pharmaceutical trial causing them to hallucinate a son they never had, a "makeless" boy. Readers will be drawn to Oyeyemi's contagious enthusiasm for her characters and deep sympathy for their unrequited or thwarted loves.
Customer ReviewsSee All
My new favorite
Ms. Oyeyemi writes with a distinct tone that any reader/writer can appreciate. I have laughed and felt emotional in every story. I love this book. I've bought it for 2 of my family members!