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Maja Carmen Carrera was only five years old when her black Cuban family emigrated from the Caribbean to London, leaving her with one complete memory: a woman singing - in a voice both eerie and enthralling - at their farewell party, while little Maja peered out from beneath a table. Now, almost twenty years later, Maja herself is a singer, in love with Aaron, pregnant and haunted by what she calls 'her Cuba'. Growing up in London, she has struggled to negotiate her history and the sense that speaking the Spanish or the English of her people's conquistadors made her less of a black girl. But she is unable to find in herself the Ewe, Igbo, or Swahili of her roots. It seems all that's left is silence. Maja's mother finds solace and identity in her faith, burning paper flowers in front of her shrine and its Yoruba gods, while her father rails against his wife's superstitions and the lost dreams of the Castro revolution. And sweet, serious Tomas, the fifteen-year-old 'London Baby', runs away from the bullies at school on quicksilver feet. On the other side of the reality wall, Yemaya Saramagua, Yemaya of the ocean, lives in the Somewherehouse with two doors: one opening to London, the other to Lagos. Yemaya is troubled by the ease with which her fellow gods have disguised themselves as saints and reappeared under different names and faces. The Opposite House is about the disquiet that follows us across places and languages, a feeling passed down from mother and father to son and daughter. It is an unforgettable second novel from the author of The Icarus Girl.
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`A beautiful, meandering, cryptic dirge ... The poetry of displacement that plays itself out here is powerfully opaque ... This is about the difficulties of knowing who you are, especially if you are born of several incompatible cultures. It has the ring of truth' -- Maureen Freely, The Times
`A poetic, meandering tale about cultural displacement' -- Financial Times Summer Books
`Oyeyemi has a lovely feel for the sweet, sticky intimacy of family and partnership' -- David Jays, Observer
`A story about rationalism and spirituality, being and belonging ... Oyeyemi delicately evokes the endless debate between religious myth and intellectual fact that shapes Maja's family life' -- Heather Thompson, Times Literary Supplement
Helen Oyeyemi was born in Nigeria in 1984 and moved to London when she was four. She is the author of the highly acclaimed novel The Icarus Girl,which she wrote while she was still at school, and two plays, Juniper's Whitening and Victimese, both published by Methuen.
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