Oyeyemi Profile

The NY Times profiles Helen Oyeyemi, the young Nigerian author whose first novel, The Icarus Girl, was released to much acclaim in the U.K. earlier this year. Here’s a snippet:

“We didn’t understand that we could be in the stories,” she said of herself and her other classmates of color. “Or that people like us could be in the stories.”

“I never got particularly good marks for the stories I wrote,” she continued. “And I read them over. And I started to see that in a fundamental sense they weren’t true. Not only were they just not very good technically in terms of the writing, but there was something missing.”

Only when Nigeria came into her stories did things ring true, she recalled. She met Nigeria, so to speak, through the novel “Yoruba Girl Dancing,” by Simi Bedford, about a Nigerian girl in London dealing with assimilation issues. “We didn’t understand that we could be in the stories,” she said of herself and her other classmates of color. “Or that people like us could be in the stories.”

“I never got particularly good marks for the stories I wrote,” she continued. “And I read them over. And I started to see that in a fundamental sense they weren’t true. Not only were they just not very good technically in terms of the writing, but there was something missing.”

Only when Nigeria came into her stories did things ring true, she recalled. She met Nigeria, so to speak, through the novel “Yoruba Girl Dancing,” by Simi Bedford, about a Nigerian girl in London dealing with assimilation issues.

The Icarus Girl is now available in the U.S.

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