Helen Oyeyemi

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Helen Oyeyemi
BornHelen O. Oyeyemi
(1984-12-10) 10 December 1984 (age 34)

Helen Olajumoke Oyeyemi (born 10 December 1984) is a British novelist and writer of short stories. Since 2014 her home has been in Prague.[1][2]

Life and writings[edit]

Oyeyemi wrote her first novel, The Icarus Girl, while studying for her A-levels[3] at Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School. While studying social and political sciences at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University, Oyeyemi saw two of her plays, Juniper's Whitening and Victimese, performed by fellow students to critical acclaim, and subsequently published by Methuen.

In 2007 Bloomsbury published Oyeyemi's second novel, The Opposite House, which is inspired by Cuban mythology.[4][5] Her third novel, White is for Witching, described as having "roots in Henry James and Edgar Allan Poe", was published by Picador in May 2009. A fourth novel, Mr Fox ("a meditation on the writing process itself, filled with vignettes about how language may ensnare or liberate", wrote Anita Sethi),[6] was published by Picador in June 2011, and a fifth, Boy, Snow, Bird, in 2014.[7]

Oyeyemi published a story collection What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, in 2016.[8]

Oyeyemi's latest work, a novel titled Gingerbread, was published 5 March 2019.

Professional awards and recognition[edit]

Her novel White Is For Witching was a 2009 Shirley Jackson Award finalist and won a 2010 Somerset Maugham Award. In 2009 Oyeyemi was recognized as one of the women on Venus Zine's "25 under 25" list. In 2013 she was included in the Granta Best of Young British Novelists list.[9] Boy, Snow, Bird was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2014. What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours won the PEN Open Book Award: for an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2016.[10]

Oyeyemi was a judge on the Booktrust Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for 2015,[11] and served as a judge for the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize.[12]




  • Juniper's Whitening (2004)[13]
  • Victimese (2005)

Short story collections[edit]

  • What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours (2016)


  1. ^ Hoggard, Liz (2 March 2014). "Helen Oyeyemi: 'I'm interested in the way women disappoint one another'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  2. ^ Bradshaw, M. René (16 March 2016). "What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi". The London Magazine. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  3. ^ Jordan, Justine (11 June 2011). "Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  4. ^ "Oyeyemi's 'Opposite House'". Tell Me More. 26 June 2007. NPR.
  5. ^ D'Erasmo, Stacey (27 February 2014). "Helen Oyeyemi's 'Boy, Snow, Bird' turns a fairy tale inside out". The Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ "Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi – review", The Observer, 13 May 2012.
  7. ^ a b Quinn, Annalisa (7 March 2014). "The Professionally Haunted Life Of Helen Oyeyemi". NPR.
  8. ^ Oyeyemi, Helen (8 March 2016). What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours. Place of publication not identified: Riverhead Books. ISBN 9781594634635.
  9. ^ "Granta 123: Best of Young British Novelists 4". Granta (123). 2013. Archived from the original on 17 April 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  10. ^ "2017 PEN America Literary Awards Winners", Pen America, 22 February 2017.
  11. ^ Irvine, Lindesay (27 May 2015). "Jenny Erpenbeck Wins Independent Foreign Fiction Prize". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  12. ^ Medley, Mark (14 January 2015). "The Giller Prize expands its jury to five people". The Globe and Mail.
  13. ^ "Juniper's Whitening by Helen Oyeyemi", Methuen.

External links[edit]