What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

This collection of 9 interconnected short stories explore lives intersected by secrets kept under lock and key--literally and otherwise.  In what you might call her signature style, Oyeyemi enfuses a fairy-tale-like quality into contemporary settings. Echoes of Borges, Nabokov, and the Brother's Grimm throughout as a pop star is plagued by demons after a YouTube scandal, married psychologists experiment with turning each other into ghosts, and an old woman in a red cape has a fateful encounter with a "wolf". I particularly enjoyed the diversity represented in the characters--nearly every story features a queer character or a person of color--breathing some new life into the European-style fable.
With five novels under her belt at 31, it's no wonder Oyeyemi was named one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists (2013). Don't forget to check out Andrea's review of Oyeyemi's Mr. Fox.
— From Devon D. Staff Picks


Winner of the PEN Open Book Award
An NPR Best Book of 2016

A Washington Post Notable Fiction Pick
A PBS NewsHour Best Book of 2016
A Slate Best Book of the Year
One of Esquire Magazine's Best Books of 2016
One of Oprah.com's 10 Favorite Books of 2016

"Transcendent." --The New York Times Book Review

"Flawless. . . another masterpiece from an author who seems incapable of writing anything that's less than brilliant." --NPR

From the award-winning author of Boy, Snow, Bird and Mr. Fox comes an enchanting collection of intertwined stories.

Playful, ambitious, and exquisitely imagined, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours is cleverly built around the idea of keys, literal and metaphorical. The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret--Oyeyemi's keys not only unlock elements of her characters' lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side. In "Books and Roses" one special key opens a library, a garden, and clues to at least two lovers' fates. In "Is Your Blood as Red as This?" an unlikely key opens the heart of a student at a puppeteering school. "'Sorry' Doesn't Sweeten Her Tea" involves a "house of locks," where doors can be closed only with a key--with surprising, unobservable developments. And in "If a Book Is Locked There's Probably a Good Reason for That Don't You Think," a key keeps a mystical diary locked (for good reason).

Oyeyemi's tales span multiple times and landscapes as they tease boundaries between coexisting realities. Is a key a gate, a gift, or an invitation? What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours captivates as it explores the many possible answers.

About the Author

Helen Oyeyemi is the author of the story collection What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours along with five novels--most recently Boy, Snow, Bird, which was a finalist for the 2014 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She received a 2010 Somerset Maugham Award and a 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. In 2013, she was named one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781594634642
ISBN-10: 1594634645
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: March 7th, 2017
Pages: 352
Language: English