The Death of Vivek Oji
Named one of the year’s most anticipated books by The New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar, BuzzFeed, and moreWhat does it mean for a family to lose a child they never really knew?One afternoon, in a town in southeastern Nigeria, a mother opens her front door to discover her son’s body, wrapped in colorful fabric, at her feet. What follows is the tumultuous, heart-wrenching story of one family’s struggle to understand a child whose spirit is both gentle and mysterious. Raised by a distant father and an understanding but overprotective mother, Vivek suffers disorienting blackouts, moments of disconnection between self and surroundings. As adolescence gives way to adulthood, Vivek finds solace in friendships with the warm, boisterous daughters of the Nigerwives, foreign-born women married to Nigerian men. But Vivek’s closest bond is with Osita, the worldly, high-spirited cousin whose teasing confidence masks a guarded private life. As their relationship deepens—and Osita struggles to understand Vivek’s escalating crisis—the mystery gives way to a heart-stopping act of violence in a moment of exhilarating freedom. Propulsively readable, teeming with unforgettable characters, The Death of Vivek Oji is a novel of family and friendship that challenges expectations—a dramatic story of loss and transcendence that will move every reader.

The Death of Vivek Oji Details

TitleThe Death of Vivek Oji
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 4th, 2020
PublisherRiverhead Books
ISBN-139780525541608
Rating
GenreFiction, Contemporary, LGBT, Cultural, Africa, Western Africa, Nigeria

The Death of Vivek Oji Review

  • The Artisan Geek
    January 1, 1970
    ------------------READING VLOG-----------------3/2/20Stayed up till 4:30 AM to finish this beauty and have been crying for a good half an hour over it. What a joy it is to know that people such as Emezi are in this world. I know how it is often said that books transform you, but I've never had that feeling as strongly as I had with this book. Not only is their prose phenomenal, but Emezi has an excellent command of the narrative, adding just the right amount of prose secondary to the main storyl ------------------READING VLOG-----------------3/2/20Stayed up till 4:30 AM to finish this beauty and have been crying for a good half an hour over it. What a joy it is to know that people such as Emezi are in this world. I know how it is often said that books transform you, but I've never had that feeling as strongly as I had with this book. Not only is their prose phenomenal, but Emezi has an excellent command of the narrative, adding just the right amount of prose secondary to the main storyline to paint an even more vivid picture. As the title states, this book is about The Death of Vivek Oji, but it is also (perhaps even more so) about Vivek's life and the people around them. Many of the main characters are coming of age and are feeling the restrictions that society thrusts upon all of us. One of the many reasons as to why I cherish this book is that it shows people doors to possibilities, they might not have even thought existed - and if that's not a hell of an achievement, I don't know what else is. READ THIS BOOK WHEN IT COMES OUT.1/2/20The time has come!! My ARC came in the mail this week and I couldn't have had a better start to Black history Month with this book! #Blessed27/12/19Oh my gosh, I can't believe I will be getting a copy in a couple of weeks!!! BRUH, once I have this in my hands, I'm going to inhale that story in one go and14/12/19I am simply OBSESSED with Akwaeke, I need this in my life right now!! I can't wait!!15/9/19I am here for it!! I'm currently reading Pet and it's such an amazing story, can't wait to read more of Emezi's work :)You can find me onYoutube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website
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  • karen
    January 1, 1970
    Freshwater was a very stylized bit of emotional brutality whose jaggedy flow i loved but totally understand why other readers might not. this one, though—this is how you win book awards, court book clubs, AND make your goddamned name. this is an undeniable stunner. you’ve read the title of this book, so i don’t need to worry that i will spoil anything by saying that this is about...the death of vivek oji, in both the literal and figurative senses. but it is NOT 248 pages of him gasping out his l Freshwater was a very stylized bit of emotional brutality whose jaggedy flow i loved but totally understand why other readers might not. this one, though—this is how you win book awards, court book clubs, AND make your goddamned name. this is an undeniable stunner. you’ve read the title of this book, so i don’t need to worry that i will spoil anything by saying that this is about...the death of vivek oji, in both the literal and figurative senses. but it is NOT 248 pages of him gasping out his last breaths while his skin cools and his heart stops—his death; the how and why of that single moment, is not the primary focus, it's more like the maypole around which the colorful narrative strands of vivek's before-and-after are wrapped: the details of his short life and what losing him does to those he leaves behind. like your own death, you never forget his is there, looming, but it's only the anchor; the backbone holding all the storymeat in place.it’s very confident and unhurried in its storytelling; nonlinear without being confusing, full of empathy and tenderness, beautifully written and accessible, with some of the most relatable depictions of grief i've ever read. It was impossible not to miss him when I was with her; it was as if someone had driven a shovel into my chest, then levered it out again, taking up all it could hold, leaving a screaming mess behind.it's a departure from the broken-glass tone and structure of Freshwater but shares its themes of sexual and gender identity, and the idea of permeable borders between bodily states, life and death, etc. however, it is much more straightforward than their debut; a coming-of-age type of story about friendship, family, first love, courage and conviction. like Freshwater, there's an emphasis on otherness, but here cast in a much more positive light—whereas Freshwater was all about alienation and isolation, here we have the the nigerwives: a group of foreign-born women married to nigerian men and raising their children in a country not their own. these women turn their otherness into a bond—building a community out of what sets them apart and providing an extended, chosen family for their children. these children of the nigerwives—vivek and his friends—were so charmingly written, their relationships sweet and light and fiercely loyal. it's a bit like seanan mcguire's wayward children series sans magic—these mixed-race, sexually spectrummy, supportive oddball kinds of kids, most especially twin sisters olunne and somto reminding me of sumi and her confection-ate ways: Somto swiped a fingerful of icing from another and licked it. "You don't have to eat the whole thing," she said. "She still hasn't learned how to put a normal amount of sugar in them."I put the cupcake down and shook my head. "I can feel my teeth rotting already."Olunne leaned over and picked the sugar dragonfly off the cupcake, popping it into her mouth. That was how we found each other again, in a blocked-off room filled with yellowing light: two bubblegum fairies there to drag me out of my cave, carrying oversweet wands. I don't know how deep I would have sunk if not for them. I wish I'd told them more often how much that mattered to me.the novel alternates between first-person POVs of vivek and his cousin osita with third-person om-narr chapters weaving between them, and emezi balances the different voices and timelines well, building tension by doling out hints and foreshadowing without letting it clutter up the narrative flow. it's such smooth, accomplished storytelling, all tender hopes and palpable griefs, and i am so ready for more from them. come to my blog!
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  • Meike
    January 1, 1970
    With their new book, Emezi has written an emotional drama, a work of social criticism, and a very effective suspense novel that revolves around an actual death, but also around another mystery: The dynamic of human relationships, in all their flawed glory. Growing up in Aba, Vivek Oji is the beloved son of a Nigerian father and an immigrant mother from India, and as we learn from both the title of the book and the first sentence, the young man dies - but how and why? This question drives the nar With their new book, Emezi has written an emotional drama, a work of social criticism, and a very effective suspense novel that revolves around an actual death, but also around another mystery: The dynamic of human relationships, in all their flawed glory. Growing up in Aba, Vivek Oji is the beloved son of a Nigerian father and an immigrant mother from India, and as we learn from both the title of the book and the first sentence, the young man dies - but how and why? This question drives the narrative, and the author does a fantastic job keeping readers on the edge of their seats. Told in alternating chapters by an omniscient narrator, Vivek's cousin Osita and Vivek himself, we learn that Vivek was born wih a mark on his foot that looks exactly like the scar of his grandmother who died the day he came into the world. Also, he is tormented by an enigmatic "illness" which drives him into a deep depression - as it turns out, Vivek is queer and gendervariant and doesn't know how to live his truth (I'm not using "they" as a pronoun at this point - the book will tell you why!). Also, Vivek feels a strong, mystical connection to his deceased grandmother. Emezi shows how the people around him struggle with Vivek's timid attempts to show and speak himself, including his feminine side. The novel shines when the author writes about the complicated relationships between friends and family, their love, their friendship and their sexual relationships, straight and queer. These characterizations and dynamics are extremely well drawn and render the novel more accessible than the more abstract Freshwater - the people we encounter frequently have strong emotional plasticity and experience both failure and growth, which makes it exciting to follow their journeys. The concept of "otherness" is also explored in the form of the Nigerwives, foreign women who are married to Nigerian men. Quite a few of them feature in the text and their stories illustrate the challenges they are facing in their roles as immigrant wives. The author themselves was not only raised in Aba, they are also half-Tamil, a "half-caste" (which is the term used in the novel), like Vivek and many of his friends. Another group that is othered and thus excluded are the Northerners who have different clothes and customs than the people living in the South of the country where Aba is located - Emezi is especially hinting at the conflicts between Hausa and Igbo. In this context, Emezi shows the barbarity of "necklacing", a lynching method where a petrol-filled rubber tyre is put around a victim and set on fire, and in another instance, they describe the practice of religious exorcisms, which seems to be a problem in Nigeria. This is a great novel, both full of heart and a real pageturner. "Why are you so afraid? Because something is different from what you know?", Vivek asks at one point - but there are some people who know what he needs: 'They barely understood him themselves, but they loved him, and that had been enough." Vivek hides things in The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, hinting at the possibility of a brighter future for gendervariant people - I need to read that now, just as the two books Emezi cites as their inspiration, Toni Morrison's Love and Gabriel García Márquez' Chronicle of a Death Foretold.
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  • Marchpane
    January 1, 1970
    The Death of Vivek Oji tells a compelling story of identity, belonging and grief. As a cultural portrait of Nigeria—in all its complexity, contrasts and frictions, it is particularly good. In that respect, this novel covers a surprising amount of ground, darting from city to small town to rural village, taking in a range of cultural and religious traditions, small details of daily life and larger ones of conflict and intolerance. The titular Vivek’s mother is Indian, and her social circle consis The Death of Vivek Oji tells a compelling story of identity, belonging and grief. As a cultural portrait of Nigeria—in all its complexity, contrasts and frictions, it is particularly good. In that respect, this novel covers a surprising amount of ground, darting from city to small town to rural village, taking in a range of cultural and religious traditions, small details of daily life and larger ones of conflict and intolerance. The titular Vivek’s mother is Indian, and her social circle consists almost entirely of foreign women—from Thailand, the Philippines, the UK, the USA etc—who have married Nigerian men. The women’s children are thus thrown together and (eventually) forge a diverse group of friends, bonded by their outsiderdom. In the foreground are personal issues of gender identity and sexuality. Here, the novel’s structure undercuts some of its emotional power. The story of Vivek’s death, and tragically short life, is told from the perspective of those left behind—family, friends, lovers—but this limits how much we hear directly from Vivek, who is by far the most vibrant and interesting character. Emezi also contorts the narrative to make the manner of Vivek’s death a mystery until the very end, which I felt was unnecessary and distracting—a suspense-building contrivance.Emezi’s 2018 debut, Freshwater was as bracing and vital as its name. By comparison, The Death of Vivek Oji almost seems like the work of a different author. More conventional and accessible, it doesn’t quite manage to live up to its predecessor. One book does not a ‘trademark style’ make, but this follow-up lacks the flair and inventiveness that won Emezi so many ardent fans, and even the prose seems less polished. On the other hand, readers who found Freshwater confounding or overwrought may actually prefer this novel’s directness.
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  • Roman Clodia
    January 1, 1970
    Osita wished, much later, that he'd told Vivek the truth then, that he was so beautiful he made the air around him dull. A gorgeously emotive and tender novel that left me aching with compassion for the characters and also angry that so much unnecessary anguish can be caused by something as fluid as gendered and sexual identities. This is definitely a book which divides the generations: the traditional parents, the less fettered children. Emezi writes with understanding throughout and manages Osita wished, much later, that he'd told Vivek the truth then, that he was so beautiful he made the air around him dull. A gorgeously emotive and tender novel that left me aching with compassion for the characters and also angry that so much unnecessary anguish can be caused by something as fluid as gendered and sexual identities. This is definitely a book which divides the generations: the traditional parents, the less fettered children. Emezi writes with understanding throughout and manages to make this both a universal story of families and love, and yet also embeds it within Nigerian culture with attention to speech patterns and language. The world is so vividly written, the characters so rounded, I felt like I was living within this book and read it straight through in a day. For all the emotional ease with which this is delivered, it's technically superb, too: the seamless weaving of past and present, and different voices, never jar or feel contrived. One of my favourite reads this year - I loved this!Huge thanks to Faber & Faber for an ARC via NetGalley
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  • Anna Luce
    January 1, 1970
    The Death of Vivek Oji is an enthralling novel. Akwaeke Emezi's lyrical prose is by turns evocative, sensual, and heart-wrenching. With empathy and understanding Emezi writes about characters who are grappling with grief and otherness, as well as with their gender identity and sexuality. “Did it feel like terror? More like horror, actually. Terrible sounded like it had a bit of acceptance in it, like an unthinkable thing had happened but you'd found space in your brain to acknowledge it, perhap The Death of Vivek Oji is an enthralling novel. Akwaeke Emezi's lyrical prose is by turns evocative, sensual, and heart-wrenching. With empathy and understanding Emezi writes about characters who are grappling with grief and otherness, as well as with their gender identity and sexuality. “Did it feel like terror? More like horror, actually. Terrible sounded like it had a bit of acceptance in it, like an unthinkable thing had happened but you'd found space in your brain to acknowledge it, perhaps even begin to accept it. Then again, horrible sounded the same way. The words had departed from their origins. They were diluted, denatured.”The first line of The Death of Vivek Oji informs us of Vivek Oji's death. When Chika and Kavita discover the body of their only child outside of their home, their lives are shattered. While Chika retreats inside himself, Kavita is desperate to find out what happened to Vivek. She urges Vivek's friends to speak out, but they seem unwilling to discuss Vivek with her. While the narrative mostly focuses on Osita—who is Vivek's cousin—and Kavita's perspectives, we are also given glimpses into the lives and minds of Vivek's friends.While The Death of Vivek Oji follows a formula that isn't entirely original (a novel that revolves around the death of story's central character is dead) Emezi's use of a non-linear narrative and the skilful way in which they inhabit different perspectives (switching between first and third povs) makes this novel stand out. Nigeria is the backdrop to Vivek's story and Emezi vividly renders its traditions, its idiosyncrasies, its contemporary culture (90s). Emezi's narratives is centred on those who feel, or are made to feel, different. Kavita belongs to the Nigerwives, foreign women married to Nigerian men. As this group of women help each other to navigate their married lives, their children come to form a deep bond.Emezi recounts Vivek's childhood through Osita's perspective. When one of Vivek's blackouts causes Osita to feel greatly embarrassed, the two become estranged. Over the next few years Osita hears of Vivek only through his parent.Vivek becomes increasingly disinterred with the rest of the world, hides at home, stops going to university, and Kavita, understandably, is worried. She tries to understand her child but seems unable to accept who Vivek is.Thankfully, Vivek finds solace in the daughters of the Nigerwives. Osita too re-enters Vivek's life, and the two become closer than ever.While I found both the sections set in the past and in the present to be deeply affecting, I particularly loved to read of Vivek's relationship with the Nigerwives' daughters. Reading about Osita and Kavita's lives after Vivek's death was truly heart-wrenching as Emezi truly captures the depths of their grief.I did find myself wishing to read more from Vivek's perspective. It seemed that Vivek's story was being told by people who did not have a clear image of Vivek. There was also a section focused on a character of no importance to Vivek's story (like, seriously, what was the point in him? it felt really out of place). The mystery surrounding Vivek's death was unnecessarily prolonged.But these are minor grievances. I loved the way Emezi articulated the feelings, thoughts, and impressions of their characters with grace and clarity. Emezi's novel is a real stunner, and if you enjoy books that explore complex familial relationship, such as Mira T. Lee's Everything Here Is Beautiful, chances are you will love The Death of Vivek Oji.
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  • Vivek Tejuja
    January 1, 1970
    This is going to be a short note, because this book is under embargo and I cannot post a review as of now. All I can say is that you must read, “The Death of Vivek Oji” by Akwaeke Emezi when it’s out. They have written it with a lot of love and heart. The story is about Vivek Oji and his death and life – and what led to his death. It is about his homosexuality or even gender fluidity (or so it seems at various points in the book) in a place where LGBT rights are not recognized, and it is a crime This is going to be a short note, because this book is under embargo and I cannot post a review as of now. All I can say is that you must read, “The Death of Vivek Oji” by Akwaeke Emezi when it’s out. They have written it with a lot of love and heart. The story is about Vivek Oji and his death and life – and what led to his death. It is about his homosexuality or even gender fluidity (or so it seems at various points in the book) in a place where LGBT rights are not recognized, and it is a crime to be gay. The book is set in Owerri, one of the largest cities in Nigeria. It is about the differences that exist - the Nigerwives (as they are called) – who don’t belong to Nigeria but marry men from there, their children, the lives they lead, and above all the patriarchy that doesn’t let you be. The patriarchy of the Nigerian society that is so deep-rooted with all its hypocrisy is mind-numbing to read. Emezi in their writing brings so much to fore that it compels you to understand and read more of the culture the book is set in. The book then is not just about Vivek Oji and who he was, but all the other characters as well – each trying very hard to find themselves. A longer review will be up in August when I can talk more about the book. For now, this will do. But please do read it when you get the chance to.
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  • Elle (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    thinking about how in august there will be a new akwaeke emezi book............ trying to live a good life just so i'm worthy of it
  • ari
    January 1, 1970
    The Death of Vivek Oji is life changing. It was one of my most anticipated books of 2020 so when I got accepted for an arc I was so over the moon I pretty much just sat down, opened my kindle, and read all day. Let's just say: I was not disappointed.The Death of Vivek Oji is about the devastating death of titular Vivek Oji, but also, about his life. Emezi's writing and brilliant characterisation paints the life and death of the young genderfluid person growing up in Nigeria, the social otherness The Death of Vivek Oji is life changing. It was one of my most anticipated books of 2020 so when I got accepted for an arc I was so over the moon I pretty much just sat down, opened my kindle, and read all day. Let's just say: I was not disappointed.The Death of Vivek Oji is about the devastating death of titular Vivek Oji, but also, about his life. Emezi's writing and brilliant characterisation paints the life and death of the young genderfluid person growing up in Nigeria, the social otherness, but also (and perhaps more so) the kindness of a chosen family found in young LGBT people coming together and finding spaces to exist. It's about a biological family who realise after his death, they barely knew Vivek at all - and the despair of never getting to see who he would become.Emezi's prose is unrelenting, at times harsh, and wholly beautiful. From the heartbreaking first page, the way they have depicted both Vivek and the cast of characters surrounding him in such a vivid light effected me so deeply. The beginnings of first love, the devastating grief of losing a child, the trauma of living in a world that does not understand you. There was not a single theme in this book that didn't hit me like a punch to the gut, and I was sobbing as I reached the end.The Death of Vivek Oji is also a necessary demand for social change - one so poignant and heartfelt and impossible not to empathise with (surely even for those who are not trans readers).If you think you'd be able to handle the subject matter in this book, please read it. It's rare that I say a book is important, but I truly feel Emezi has written something that rightfully demands your attention.** I received an advanced readers copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review **
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  • Sara
    January 1, 1970
    ARC received in exchange for an honest review. The Death 0f Vivek Oji starts, as you would expect, with the body of Vivek Oji turning up on his family doorstep wrapped in a colourful blanket. As his mother cradles Vivek’s body, and starts to question how her only child came to die, we are transported back over the years and months before Vivek died and what led to their death. We see how Vivek’s parents met and fell in love, we see his Aunt and Uncle have their own son and how he becomes Vivek’ ARC received in exchange for an honest review. The Death 0f Vivek Oji starts, as you would expect, with the body of Vivek Oji turning up on his family doorstep wrapped in a colourful blanket. As his mother cradles Vivek’s body, and starts to question how her only child came to die, we are transported back over the years and months before Vivek died and what led to their death. We see how Vivek’s parents met and fell in love, we see his Aunt and Uncle have their own son and how he becomes Vivek’s best friend and partner in all things. We see the wider Nigerwives community and how they rely around Vivek’s mother in her grief amongst their own family struggles. And at the centre we start to unravel the realities of Vivek’s life, and their hidden true identity. For a book that is just under 250 pages I found this to be incredibly well written and the family characters are all very well developed and described. We get to know a lot of the intricacies of their lives and how they work around Vivek without really seeing them for who they truly are. The prose are wonderfully nuanced and loaded with intent, with descriptions of oppression and prejudice seen within a community that outwardly presents itself as accepting. Vivek is the centre of the story, around which everyone else revolves. They light up the narrative, and I felt a real connection with them as they start to discover who they want to be, and the struggles this then presents. I was also deeply mved by Vivek’s mother and her depiction of grief. I could understand her anger at other people grieving her son and how she believes they have no right to grieve – Vivek was her only son, her life. Grief isn’t always about sadness and reflection. It’s also heavily tied into negative emotions of hurt and anger. I’ve felt that myself, and I thought that was wonderfully depicted here. The conclusion to this also absolutely floored me, and was not what I was expecting. It was so powerful, yet also deeply bitter sweet.A truly moving piece of literature, I would implore everyone to read to learn about self-acceptance, found families and above all learning to grieve an individual you might have not truly know in life.
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  • Jonathan
    January 1, 1970
    5 HUGE STARS . “Love and guilt sometimes taste the same, you know”.The Death of Vivek Oji is a poignant and tantalizing novel that wraps you up in its web of characters and feeds on you with carnivorous force, all while softening your heart and mind to a world outside of the normal social constraints we have been conditioned to. Akwaeke Emezi has created a suspenseful, intellectual, and philosophical work that shows a true talent at the height of their ability. Stunningly Emezi builds these char 5 HUGE STARS . “Love and guilt sometimes taste the same, you know”.The Death of Vivek Oji is a poignant and tantalizing novel that wraps you up in its web of characters and feeds on you with carnivorous force, all while softening your heart and mind to a world outside of the normal social constraints we have been conditioned to. Akwaeke Emezi has created a suspenseful, intellectual, and philosophical work that shows a true talent at the height of their ability. Stunningly Emezi builds these characters almost in a reverse way, giving you the ending at the beginning ( or in this case, the title) and they write with such a force that you’re under a spell, succumbed to their poetic prose and trance like thrill ride that the novel inevitably takes you on, with inspiration taken from Toni Morrison’s “Love” and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “Chronicle of a death foretold” this novel has the power to change you, and completely destroy you all at once.From the first chapter spanning one sentence long “They burned down the market on the day Vivek Oji died” we are swept up in a world of secrets, love, family, and death. Born on the same day his grandmother passes, Vivek has a scar on his ankle that matches the very one she had, an odd coincidence that comes back to play later on. The story unfolds with alternating narratives from the only person who knows the entire truth, Osita, Vivik’s cousin and closest friend, almost a brother, and we also get glimpses from Vivek’s point of view as well, seemingly from beyond the grave.As the pages turn and they boys grow along with their female confidants we are front row to their loves, and erotic sexual awakenings, Emezi eloquently paints these scenes both queer and straight with a fever that burns like a madman. However, Vivek struggles to live his true self, as he is gender variant and feels most at home in his long hair and makeup and dresses ( I am still not using the they/them pronoun for a reason within the book) As he becomes more comfortable in his own skin and finding happiness his friends fear for him and his safety all the while keeping the secrets from their families to protect Vivek. His mother is overbearing and scared while his father is for the most part oblivious.The deeper and wider we sink into the pool of their lives we feel content floating at the bottom of everything, a voyeur holding our breath until our lungs flame and finally our hearts are drowned with sorrow. The last two chapters of this novel gutted me, an ending like Colson Whiteheads “ the nickel boys’ left me feeling empty and alive at once, smiling knowing I had just finished a harrowing tale by one of our finest young writers today. A story deserving of a wide audience and all the accolades one could possibly stamp on the cover of this utterly age defying masterpiece.
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  • BookOfCinz
    January 1, 1970
    Akwaeke Emezi’s third novel The Death Of Vivek Oji addresses a family that is suffering from the mysterious death of their son. Set in Nigeria we meet Nigerian born Chika who falls in love with Kavita who is from Indian. They get married and had their son Vivek was born the day his Grandmother died. Kavita dotes on her son offering him everything she can, Chika, while a bit distance loves his son but doesn’t know exactly how to show it. Vivek grows up surrounded by family and forms a very clos Akwaeke Emezi’s third novel The Death Of Vivek Oji addresses a family that is suffering from the mysterious death of their son. Set in Nigeria we meet Nigerian born Chika who falls in love with Kavita who is from Indian. They get married and had their son Vivek was born the day his Grandmother died. Kavita dotes on her son offering him everything she can, Chika, while a bit distance loves his son but doesn’t know exactly how to show it. Vivek grows up surrounded by family and forms a very close bond with his cousin Osita. They experience life together until one day Vivek’s mysterious blackouts led to an unforgiveable situation in Osita’s eyes. They go their separate ways, reconnect later in life when Vivek goes through a difficult time that Osita isn’t truly equip to help with. Vivek ends up dead and is body placed on the front step of his home for his mother to find…Emezi writes a novel that deserves to be read. I feel like she addresses the topic of identity and belonging in the most heartfelt and beautiful way. The characters were multi-dimensional and well written, to the point you felt for them and their struggle. It is a short read and I felt because of the shortness, as soon as I was getting into it, it ended. Regardless it was impactful and I will remember for some time. This book will be released in August. Thanks Riverhead for this ARC.
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  • Gumble's Yard
    January 1, 1970
    I doubt anyone that any European readers of literary fiction, who engaged with Akwaeke Emezi’s extraordinary debut novel “Freshwater” did not feel that they were reading something genuinely different to what they had read before – a very different perspective and way of telling a story, a different worldview based around Igbo spirituality, with its multiple self/spirit narrators.In many ways, this, the author’s second novel, is much more conventional than their first.It contains many of the same I doubt anyone that any European readers of literary fiction, who engaged with Akwaeke Emezi’s extraordinary debut novel “Freshwater” did not feel that they were reading something genuinely different to what they had read before – a very different perspective and way of telling a story, a different worldview based around Igbo spirituality, with its multiple self/spirit narrators.In many ways, this, the author’s second novel, is much more conventional than their first.It contains many of the same themes – gender fluidity, otherness, identities, prejudice, the interactions of Igbo tradition with an innate (if perhaps Western taught) conservatism, but the more spiritual aspects, while not absent, sit in the background to the novel, rather than largely in the foreground.The book begins “They burned down the market on the day Vivek Oji died” – and then proceeds to tell the story of Vivek’s life and death, in a series of chapters which are mainly third party omniscient narrator, but interspersed with some narrated by Vivek (including some short chapters narrated by him after his death) and a lengthier series of chapters narrated by his cousin Osita (the only son of Vivek’s father’s brother, Vivek himself an only son). Other main characters include: Vivek and Osita’s grandmother (who dies on the day of Vivek’s birth and with who his life seems intertwined, beginning with a scar he was born with that matches one of her own); their parents (and their changing relationships); a group of girls they befriend – mainly the son of other (like Vivek’s Indian mother) Nigerwives (foreign born wives of Nigerian men, who form a mutual support group) – the girls including Juju, Elizabeth (whose relationship with Osita leads to an initial break between he and Vivek).We learn of: Vivek’s blackouts; his increasing (although largely hidden to his parents) gender fluidity; the complex relationships between Vivek/Osita/Juju/Elizabeth (I think 5 of the 6 two-way interactions turn sexual at some point); and as the book develops the circumstances of his death during the riots – a revelation which does seem to be slightly artificially withheld from the reader (who can largely guess it).Themes/issues such as necklacing, second wives/polygamy, North/South tensions, riots, churches practicing exorcisms, prejudice against same sex relationships and cross-dressing and so on are all included whereas I felt their debut novel, presented an entirely different worldview on what say a Western liberal/atheist might call mental illness – this felt like veering more towards a more conventional take on Nigerian society. Overall I feel some readers will feel a little underwhelmed by the novel; others may find it much easier to engage with then their debut: many (myself included) may feel a little of both.My thanks to Faber and Faber Limited for an ARC via NetGalley.
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  • Jillian Doherty
    January 1, 1970
    I'm still reeling from the ending! Like enduring a tornado's intensity to look up and see you're standing in the center eye - calmness and powerful now all seen with clear understanding swirling around you at once. A story as emotional as it sharply told. This story creates characters, then reveals their true nature- hidden behind social masks worn to make others feel more comfortable with what they don't understand. I love how even though this novel takes place in a certain place, with specific I'm still reeling from the ending! Like enduring a tornado's intensity to look up and see you're standing in the center eye - calmness and powerful now all seen with clear understanding swirling around you at once. A story as emotional as it sharply told. This story creates characters, then reveals their true nature- hidden behind social masks worn to make others feel more comfortable with what they don't understand. I love how even though this novel takes place in a certain place, with specific characters - it transcends culture and relates to any group working to explore their own identity. Galley borrowed from the publisher.
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  • Fatma
    January 1, 1970
    I really wanted to enjoy this, but I didn't feel like any aspect of it particularly impressed me...The Death of Vivek Oji is a compelling novel in that its narrative is very much readable, largely because of the mystery element of the novel--the big question being, of course, how did Vivek Oji die? Emezi weaves in several points of view throughout the novel, introducing you not only to Vivek himself (in fact, you get very few chapters from him), but to the community surrounding him: his mother, I really wanted to enjoy this, but I didn't feel like any aspect of it particularly impressed me...The Death of Vivek Oji is a compelling novel in that its narrative is very much readable, largely because of the mystery element of the novel--the big question being, of course, how did Vivek Oji die? Emezi weaves in several points of view throughout the novel, introducing you not only to Vivek himself (in fact, you get very few chapters from him), but to the community surrounding him: his mother, his cousin, his friends, and even minor characters who seem only tangentially related to Vivek. Nothing about this novel is especially bad, but I wanted more from it. The writing was fine, the character work was fine, the dialogue was fine. Having finished it only 2 weeks ago, though, I can't say that much from this novel has stuck with me. Sadly, The Death of Vivek Oji was mostly a forgettable read.(Thank you to Faber and Faber for providing me with an e-ARC of this via NetGalley!)
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  • Debbie Notkin
    January 1, 1970
    DISCLAIMER: I got an advance review copy of this unpublished book as a gift, but not from the publisher, and I have no financial or reputational stake in this review.Akwaeke Emezi continues to demand a great deal of their readers, and make the work well worthwhile. Unlike Pet, which is undeniably fantasy, and Freshwater, which is as speculative as you choose to read it given its heavy reliance on Igbo religious and spiritual beliefs, this book is mostly "mainstream," with much smaller forays int DISCLAIMER: I got an advance review copy of this unpublished book as a gift, but not from the publisher, and I have no financial or reputational stake in this review.Akwaeke Emezi continues to demand a great deal of their readers, and make the work well worthwhile. Unlike Pet, which is undeniably fantasy, and Freshwater, which is as speculative as you choose to read it given its heavy reliance on Igbo religious and spiritual beliefs, this book is mostly "mainstream," with much smaller forays into magic/spirit/fantasy. It follows Vivek Oji, born on the day his grandmother died, and born with the same birthmark on his foot that she had from birth.Emezi moves around through Vivek's life and the time before it, contexting characters and contexting culture. One of their amazing strengths as a writer is their skill at providing enough background so non-Nigerian readers can follow, but only if we are willing to do the work. Nothing is handed out easily--we are expected to pay attention, draw some inferences, and be patient if some things are not clear. Much of the book is mystery and spoiler, so I don't want to say too much. Nonetheless, this is a book about gender, about family (blood and chosen), about acceptance, about attraction, and about despair. It made me think frequently of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, though the books are very different.I'm sorry you have to wait until it's published.
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  • Aleya
    January 1, 1970
    What a powerful book. So glad I got the chance to read this one. Definitely worth reading.
  • Christy
    January 1, 1970
    This is not your usual mystery - it's a piecing together not of facts but of the soul. How did Vivek Oji die? The answer is complex, told in layered stories from Vivek's life from the ones who loved him the most. This book is about the parts of ourselves we hold secret, and the ones that make us feel the most free. It's honest, compelling, heartbreaking, and hopeful; it's a story you will never forget.
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  • Kerry
    January 1, 1970
    Literally just finished this book. I cried hard enough to drive my sleeping cat off my lap and into another room, and I am still crying as I write this. I’m calling it, two months into the year and six months before The Death of Vivek Oji even comes out: this is the best book of 2020. Done.
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    Can Emezi keep up this streak of just getting better and better with each book? The Death of Vivek Oji is a wonder! Poignant, beautiful, harsh, and full of golden light.
  • Nadia
    January 1, 1970
    I am, without doubt, an Emezi fan, and this latest book only makes me further admire their work. Aside from the beautiful prose and character building, one of the things I love most about reading Emezi is knowing that they are not going to create clean borders or tidy classifications. Nothing is exactly one thing, and even those things which may appear to be will never be named. Read Emezi for their use and restraint of language, their complex characters, and for the feeling which will linger af I am, without doubt, an Emezi fan, and this latest book only makes me further admire their work. Aside from the beautiful prose and character building, one of the things I love most about reading Emezi is knowing that they are not going to create clean borders or tidy classifications. Nothing is exactly one thing, and even those things which may appear to be will never be named. Read Emezi for their use and restraint of language, their complex characters, and for the feeling which will linger after you set the pages down: the good and the messy and the torn and the tragic and the love.
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  • Sacha
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this arc, which I received in exchange for an honest review. I will post that review - which will be glowing because this book is beautiful - upon publication.
  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    This is my first time reading Emezi's writing and, wow. I'm absolutely blown away. Their characters are so fully fleshed out and I found myself attached to nearly all of them, despite the relatively short read, and the amount of humanity and depth which Emezi delves into themes of family, identity, and loss are magnificent. I loved this book.
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    Confession, I really didn't get on with Emezi's Freshwater and ended up DNFing it, but I was really intrigued by the sound of their new novel, even if a little trepidatious. ⁠⁠Then I saw a fellow Bookstagrammer say they were already certain it would be in their top 10 books of the year which was all the convincing I needed to pick it up, and I'm glad I did. WOW. This is a beautiful, heartbreaking and important book. ⁠⁠Vivek Oji's body is found on the porch of their family house, breaking the hea Confession, I really didn't get on with Emezi's Freshwater and ended up DNFing it, but I was really intrigued by the sound of their new novel, even if a little trepidatious. ⁠⁠Then I saw a fellow Bookstagrammer say they were already certain it would be in their top 10 books of the year which was all the convincing I needed to pick it up, and I'm glad I did. WOW. This is a beautiful, heartbreaking and important book. ⁠⁠Vivek Oji's body is found on the porch of their family house, breaking the hearts of their mother and father - but did they really know their child? ⁠⁠Born at the moment their grandmother died and marked with the same scar, Vivek is assigned male, but in adolescence begins experiencing blackout dissociations, where they feel the spirit of another person.⁠⁠Told in alternate third- or first-person chapters from different perspectives, we gradually learn about the gentle and mysterious Vivek and those who loved them, including their closest friends and their cousin, Osita. ⁠⁠Through beautiful heartfelt prose, Emezi highlights the plight of LGBT persons in Nigeria, which does not allow or recognise LGBT rights and where the punishment for same-sex activity is often imprisonment or death by stoning. Nonetheless, they emphasise that both gender and sexuality are fluid, and that love is love. ⁠⁠As I read through the weaving mystery and got closer to the end, even though the eventual conclusion is inevitable, I could feel my heart hurting and my eyes welling up. ⁠Be warned this is not an easy read in terms of homophobia, transphobia and violence (and the sex scenes are pretty graphic so this probably isn’t one for YAs). ⁠.This is a stunning read, which will no doubt cement Emezi as an author to watch out for. ⁠
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  • Booksxnaps
    January 1, 1970
    Death of Vivek Oji - Akwaeke Emezi Thank you @netgalley for this advance copy! ___First of all, by default we readers tend to compare books written by the same author. I enjoyed freshwater more than I did Pet and that got me really excited to read this. This was going to be the tie breaker. ____Set in Owerri,Nigeria, this book explores the life Vivek Oji who was born to a Nigerian father and an Indian mother on the day his grandmother died. Culturally, that’s a bad omen and given the title, you Death of Vivek Oji - Akwaeke Emezi Thank you @netgalley for this advance copy! ___First of all, by default we readers tend to compare books written by the same author. I enjoyed freshwater more than I did Pet and that got me really excited to read this. This was going to be the tie breaker. ____Set in Owerri,Nigeria, this book explores the life Vivek Oji who was born to a Nigerian father and an Indian mother on the day his grandmother died. Culturally, that’s a bad omen and given the title, you already know Vivek dies and you almost feel like the mystery is gone but the story is just getting started! I thought it was very interesting to start the story with the protagonist dead. You know he dies but you’re left with questions like how did he die, why did he die? IMO, This was a smart move by Akwaeke because these questions got me very curious. I didn’t fully get into this until I was about 30/40 in. Although I wasn’t particularly impressed with the dialogue in the book, I still found it really enjoyable. ___The story is told from the POV of different characters mainly Vivek and his cousin Osita. Although this felt like a plot driven book, you get a real sense of who the characters are and what they’re capable of . Excellent character development by Akwaeke! ___Themes here were love, grief, family, friendships, sexuality, homophobia, transphobia, and gender identity.___ This story will evoke all sort of emotions in you and knowing he dies from the first chapter does not make it any easier. Your heart will be broken into tiny pieces at the end of this book. I definitely recommend this to anyone who loves reading books set in Nigeria and what it’s like to live in a very homophobic and transphobic society. I was oscillating between 3.5 and 4 stars tbh
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  • Siobhan
    January 1, 1970
    The Death of Vivek Oji is a powerful novel about how the child parents think they know might not be the child they really have, focusing on the childhood, adolescence, and death of Vivek Oji. In Nigeria, a mother finds her only child dead on her doorstep, wrapped in material, and desperately wants to know what happened to them. Mixed in with this story of that of Vivek's upbringing, showing how finding who you truly are may mean keeping secrets from your family, and that love, gender, and sexual The Death of Vivek Oji is a powerful novel about how the child parents think they know might not be the child they really have, focusing on the childhood, adolescence, and death of Vivek Oji. In Nigeria, a mother finds her only child dead on her doorstep, wrapped in material, and desperately wants to know what happened to them. Mixed in with this story of that of Vivek's upbringing, showing how finding who you truly are may mean keeping secrets from your family, and that love, gender, and sexuality aren't always simple.Having read and enjoyed both of their previous novels, Freshwater and Pet, I knew I needed to read Emezi's new book, and it didn't disappoint, being a story of identity, personal relationships, and how people's lives were affected by one person. The exploration of identity and secrets is combined with elements of social commentary, around what is spoken and unspoken and how people find community, but the main focus is on Vivek, and on the impact that someone's life and death can have. This is important, as despite the title the book doesn't have a huge amount of Vivek's point of view, but instead uses others' perspectives to get across the different ways of seeing people and the complexity of self in relation to other people.This is a gripping novel that told an entrancing story, and though the title is about death, the book is also about life, about living as yourself, finding people to be around, and the complexity of emotion.
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  • Elizabeth Berger
    January 1, 1970
    I won an advanced reader copy as part of an Instagram giveaway hosted by The Book Drop. This book releases on August 4th.---As you may have surmised from the title, this book centers around the death of Vivek Oji. The other aspects of the tale swirl around that central force, slowly picking up steam as we learn more and more of the details that brought Vivek's end. The reader is aware of the death on every page, it serves to anchor the rest of the story in time and place. We see Vivek's life unf I won an advanced reader copy as part of an Instagram giveaway hosted by The Book Drop. This book releases on August 4th.---As you may have surmised from the title, this book centers around the death of Vivek Oji. The other aspects of the tale swirl around that central force, slowly picking up steam as we learn more and more of the details that brought Vivek's end. The reader is aware of the death on every page, it serves to anchor the rest of the story in time and place. We see Vivek's life unfurl before and how those left behind grapple with the loss of life unrolls after.I loved that it was nonlinear without being difficult to follow, careful without feeling slow. It was a richly told story about friendship, family, gender and sexual identity, courage, first love, community, grief and hope. I highly recommend picking this one up.
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  • Yvonne
    January 1, 1970
    Akwaeke Emezi writes beautifully. In their latest novel, they compel you to look past “normal” by throwing you deep into the “otherness”. I was instantly drawn into Vivek’s world and the impact his life (and death) had on the people around him. We watch an “ordinary” family choose to see one of their own as who they want him to be, and the emotional and physical toll this takes on him. This story thoughtfully captures the power of identity and the masks we wear to make other people – family, fri Akwaeke Emezi writes beautifully. In their latest novel, they compel you to look past “normal” by throwing you deep into the “otherness”. I was instantly drawn into Vivek’s world and the impact his life (and death) had on the people around him. We watch an “ordinary” family choose to see one of their own as who they want him to be, and the emotional and physical toll this takes on him. This story thoughtfully captures the power of identity and the masks we wear to make other people – family, friends and society – feel more comfortable. “The Death of Vivek Oji” is your next book club read.
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  • Celeste
    January 1, 1970
    My heart belongs to Vivek Oji. The story itself is simple but the implications surrounding Vivek's death are the real tragedy. It is about love, friendship, and authenticity. Gender non-conformity is always confusing and seemingly complicated to outsiders but to the person self-identifying, it is very simple; they are themselves. This book asks us to question what we assume are infallible beliefs, and embrace the beauty of the true self.
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    Knowing what will happen to the main character (from the title) makes every page of this novel special. The author has written much real emotion into the story, the characters act true to the premise, and the reader is treated to a unique and special insight into a different culture where LGBTQ people have no rights or respect.Thanks to NetGalley and Riverhead Books for the ARC to read and review.
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