Opposite House

Paperback | June 12, 2007

byHelen Oyeyemi

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"I read The Opposite House with rare happiness. The voice in it is so sure, the risk it takes is so good and the intelligence in it is a sheer relief."
—Ali Smith, author of The Accidental

Maja Carmen Carrerra was only five years old when her family emigrated to London. Growing up, she speaks the Spanish of her native land and the English of her adopted country, but longs for a connection to her African roots. Now in her early twenties, Maja is haunted by thoughts of Cuba and the desire to make sense of the threads of her history. Maja's mother has found comfort in Santeria—a faith that melds Catholic saints and the Yoruba gods of West African religion. Her involvement with Santeria, however, divides the family as Maja's father rails against his wife's superstitions and the lost dreams of the Castro revolution.

Maja's narrative is one of two parallel voices in Oyeyemi's beautifully wrought novel. Yemaya Saramagua speaks from the other side of the reality wall—in the Somewherehouse, which has two doors, one opening to London, the other to Lagos. A Yoruban goddess, Yemaya, is troubled by the ease with which her fellow gods have disguised themselves as saints and reappeared under different names and faces.

As Maja and Yemaya move closer to understanding themselves, they realize that the journey to discovering where home truly lies is at once painful and exhilarating.

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From the Publisher

"I read The Opposite House with rare happiness. The voice in it is so sure, the risk it takes is so good and the intelligence in it is a sheer relief."—Ali Smith, author of The Accidental Maja Carmen Carrerra was only five years old when her family emigrated to London. Growing up, she speaks the Spanish of her native land and the Engl...

H elen Oyeyemi  is the author of five novels, most recently White Is for Witching, which won a 2010 Somerset Maugham Award, and Mr. Fox, which won a 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. In 2013, she was named one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists. She lives in Prague.  

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 9.1 × 6.2 × 0.9 inPublished:June 12, 2007Publisher:Penguin CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143017772

ISBN - 13:9780143017776

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Editorial Reviews

"The Opposite House has a richness, vitality and built-in narrative drive that places it squarely in the company of the work of Zadie Smith, Ali Smith and Monica Ali... An irresistible literary meditation on the defining question of the early 21st century: Who exactly are we?"—The Gazette (Montreal)"... a fascinating page-turner."—Winnipeg Free Press"...Oyeyemi triumphs... The Opposite House resembles a Frida Kahlo painting, the surreal made incarnate."—The Globe and Mail"Helen Oyeyemi is a fresh bud on the flourishing tree that is Nigerian literature."—The Toronto Star