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Boy, Snow, Birdby Helen Oyeyemi
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Synopses & Reviews
The widely acclaimed novel that brilliantly recasts the Snow White fairy tale as a story of family secrets, race, beauty, and vanity.
In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty — the opposite of the life she's left behind in New York. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman.
A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she'd become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy's daughter, Bird, exposes the Whitman family secret. Among them, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold.
Dazzlingly inventive and powerfully moving, Boy, Snow, Bird is an astonishing and enchanting novel. With breathtaking feats of imagination, Helen Oyeyemi confirms her place as one of the most original and dynamic literary voices of our time.
“Gloriously unsettling…the greatest joy of reading Oyeyemi will always be style: jagged and capricious at moments, lush and rippled at others, always singular, like the voice-over of a fever dream.” The New York Times Book Review
“The outline of [Oyeyemi's] remarkable career glimmers with pixie dust....Her latest novel, Boy, Snow, Bird, continues on this bewitching path…the atmosphere of fantasy lingers over these pages like some intoxicating incense.…Under Oyeyemi's spell, the fairy-tale conceit makes a brilliant setting in which to explore the alchemy of racism, the weird ways in which identity can be transmuted in an instant — from beauty to beast or vice versa.” Ron Charles, The Washington Post
"Oyeyemi finds a new, raw power in the classic. In her hands, the story is about secrets and lies, mothers and daughters, lost sisters and the impossibility of seeing oneself or being seen in a brutally racist world.…[Oyeyemi] elegantly and inventively turns a classic fairy tale inside out.” Los Angeles Times
“Like Salman Rushdie and Angela Carter in the 80s, and Jeanette Winterson in the 90s, Oyeyemi has taken a page from Lewis Carroll's “Alice in Wonderland” and inverted it, turning the malevolence of a reflecting gaze upon itself, and making it, possibly, amazingly, a positive thing. This — more than her narrative special effects — is the extraordinary feat of Boy, Snow, Bird. In her first four books, Oyeyemi wrote with the same chilly precision as Patricia Highsmith. The performance was mesmerizing, sinister, and creepy. With this book she proves an even great ability: she can thaw a heart.” Boston Globe
“Riveting, brilliant and emotionally rich…with fully realized characters, startling images, original observations and revelatory truths, this masterpiece engages the readers heart and mind as it captures both the complexities of racial and gender identity in the 20th century and the more intimate complexities of love in all its guises.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Oyeyemi wields her words with economy and grace, and she rounds out her story with an inventive plot and memorable characters.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Incandescent…stunning…utterly enchanting.” A.V. Club
“Both exquisitely beautiful and strange…Oyeyemi casts a powerful light on the absurdities accompanying the history of race in America and the Western world, while taking us to the landscape of Grimms Fairy Tales. She brilliantly raises the questions of what identifies us racially: Is it our color? Our genes? Our history? Our culture?...It is a powerful examination of the way we see others and the way others see us. And therein lies the beauty of Oyeyemi's tale; we all are not, as Boy, Snow, Bird convinces us, what we appear to be, even to ourselves.” Dallas Morning News
About the Author
Helen Oyeyemi was born in Nigeria in 1984 and raised in London. She wrote her widely acclaimed first novel, The Icarus Girl, before her nineteenth birthday; she graduated from Cambridge University in 2006. Her second novel, The Opposite House, was a nominee for the 2008 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.
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