Oyeyemi Profile, Redux

Another profile of Helen Oyeyemi, this time from the Guardian. She talks once again about her struggle with depression and her attempted suicide at the age of fifteen, and how she spent her recovery time doing nothing but reading. Still, she reflects:

As a child in Lewisham, she remembers never quite finding herself represented in the books she was reading. “You can read a lot of books and the main characters are white people – especially in the classics – and after a while you forget that you’re not white, almost, because it’s this big pervasive culture. And then you find books like Yoruba Girl Dancing [by Simi Bedford] and you think: it’s just as interesting to be Nigerian in England as it is to be white in England.”

Later, Oyeyemi describes some of the reactions she’s received from the publishing world:

As for being categorised, as a young, non-white woman, with writers such as Zadie Smith and Monica Ali, she says this is “inevitable but lazy”. She tells of how, at books parties, people ask her if she is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the Nigerian author of Purple Hibiscus.