Helen Oyeyemi, “Boy, Snow, Bird”

Boy Snow Bird

I read Boy, Snow, Bird . It is a fascinating tale set in 1950s USA, when racism was rampant, especially towards the people of colour. This story is also about the racism experienced by even those who were fair skinned and light haired by their own people.  At the same time it is magnificent but disquieting retelling of the Snow White fairy tale and the wicked stepmother. What comes through in the novel are strong portraits of the women. The strength is evident in their relationship with each other and not necessarily in terms of the challenges they experience in society and overcome them.

This is 29-year-old Helen Oyeyemi’s fifth novel. It is extraordinarily powerful and worth reading. She exhibits the maturity of a much older writer. The confidence with which she plays with myth, fairytale, and magic while placing the story in a moment of history is astounding. The storytelling too never gets dull. In some of her interviews she remarks upon the powerful novels that have left an impact on her. Usually by making her stomach recoil. This is exactly what she achieves with Boy, Snow, Bird.

Here are a couple of interviews with her: Helen Oyeyemi: ‘I’m interested in the way women disappoint one another’ ( 2 March 2014,  http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/mar/02/helen-oyeyemi-women-disappoint-one-another) and An Interview With Helen Oyeyemi: “Nothing Happens Without My Teapots” ( 10 March 2014, http://www.buzzfeed.com/alexanderchee/an-interviews-with-helen-oyeyemi-nothing-happens-without-my#.jdJO6oP70 )

26 January 2015

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