Helen Oyeyemi is a masterful writer—poetic, witty, and captivating. Each of the short stories in this collection is tentatively connected by their characters and by themes of locks, keys, doors and books, yet each also seems to create its own secret world. In each new world, I was immediately entranced by its mystery and, inevitably, its poignant tragedy.
“There is magic in Helen Oyeyemi's writing. There is magic in the settings, which shift between the conventional and the fantastic as readers devotedly follow her characters down any path they please. There is magic in the tales themselves, as readers recognize a situation only to have it bloom into a flower they have never imagined before, full of beauty or of dread. And, most certainly, there is magic in such breathtaking prose and unimaginable characters. This is a captivating story collection, filled with both fairy tale whimsy and dark, complicated mystery. Highly recommended!”
— Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA
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.