The Opposite House

The Opposite House In a dazzling follow up to The Icarus Girl Helen Oyeyemi explores the thin wall between myth and reality through the alternating tales of two young women and their search for the truth about faith an

  • Title: The Opposite House
  • Author: Helen Oyeyemi
  • ISBN: 9780385513845
  • Page: 188
  • Format: Hardcover
  • In a dazzling follow up to The Icarus Girl, Helen Oyeyemi explores the thin wall between myth and reality through the alternating tales of two young women and their search for the truth about faith and identity Maja was five years old when her black Cuban family emigrated from the Caribbean to London Now, almost twenty years later, Maja is a singer, in love with Aaron, pIn a dazzling follow up to The Icarus Girl, Helen Oyeyemi explores the thin wall between myth and reality through the alternating tales of two young women and their search for the truth about faith and identity Maja was five years old when her black Cuban family emigrated from the Caribbean to London Now, almost twenty years later, Maja 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 Spanish or English made her less of a black girl But she is unable to find herself in the Ewe, Igbo, or Akum of her roots It seems all that s left is silence Meanwhile distance from Cuba has only deepened Maja s mother faith in Santeria the fusion of Catholicism and Western African Yoruba religion but it also divides the family as her father rails against his wife s superstitions and the lost dreams of the Castro revolution.On the other side of the reality wall, Yemaya Saramagua, a Santeria emissary, lives in a somewherehouse with two doors one opening to London, the other to Lagos Yemaya is troubled by the ease with which her fellow emissaries have disguised themselves behind the personas of saints and by her inability to recognize them Lyrical and intensely moving, 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.

    One thought on “The Opposite House”

    1. In a way, this story is a coming of age. The main character, Maja (a black Cuban), spends the novel trying to figure out who she is and where she belongs among groups of family and friends who are multicultural, multiethnic, and multiracial. There are two stories that are happening at the same time and that intersect in subtle ways. There definitely is a lot to consider when reading this story, but I found it fascinating if not complicated. As someone who knows little about Yoruba, Cuba, or Sant [...]

    2. In this novel, Helen Oyeyemi presents a disquieting, dreamlike story, told from two perspectives: Maja, a Black cubana dealing with pregnancy and her heritage and her mother’s Santería; and Yemaya Saramagua, an Orisha (a minor god in both Santería and Nigeria) living in a “somewherehouse” between Cuba and Lagos. Both characters’ stories seem to have things in common, but I didn’t quite get how or why the author chose to link them. It was far too subtle and tenuous connection, lost in [...]

    3. Around the World = CubaDespite being mainly set in London, this is my selection for Cuba. It the story of Maja Carrera, a black Cubana, the child of academics exiled by the Castro regime, whose only experience of Cuba exists in the form of half-remembered memories, snatches of song, and the Santería rituals of her mother. Santería forms a divisive subject in her parent's lives; embraced by her spiritualist mother whilst rejected by her rationalist father. Maja, pregnant by her white Ghanaian b [...]

    4. It was hard to rate this book, because I enjoyed it a lot on some levels but felt that it had some significant flaws. Helen Oyeyemi's writing is an unbelievable pleasure. She successfully intermingles the symbolism of a spiritual folk tale with the gritty details of modern urban life and pop culture references. Her portrayal of "the hysteric" that hides within so many young women is spot-on. Her protagonist, Maja, rings very true when she experiences a tumultuous mixture of emotions in dealing w [...]

    5. Really impressive. I found Oyeyemi's style poetic but surprisingly readable -- I often get impatient with too much poetry, but here it didn't grate at all. Her style really worked for me. I found the characters vivid and interesting. And it was really nice for once to read about a female character who loves and (mostly) gets along with her mom. Stories about families are so often about how they hate each other.The main problem with this is that I had no idea what was going on with the parallel s [...]

    6. A magnificent novel, rich in poetry and longing, which will transport you to magical worldsHelen Oyeyemi is extraordinarily talented. She is also young and prolific -- her first novel was published before her 18th birthday -- and she doesn't always develop that talent to the full. In this extraordinary book, however, she fulfills all her great promise."The Opposite House" is the fictional autobiography of Maja, a young singer whose family have migrated from Nigeria to Cuba, and then to London. E [...]

    7. This book is very detailed and written beautifully. It illustrates the struggle many 'migrants' live through when leaving their homeland to live somewhere else. It displays the difficulty that many 'transplants' experience of learning new cultures and ways to do things while still holding on to the beliefs and traditions one grows up with. At times the book takes itself a little too seriously and seems to lose focus or make the characters seem less important than the way the book is written. Oth [...]

    8. I thought I was used to Oyeyemi's writing style by now, but I was incredibly confused by this novel. Although I was disappointed with it, so far it's her only novel I've been unsatisfied with.On a random side note - Ibeyi is a group composed of twin sisters that sing in French, Spanish, English and Yoruba. If Helen Oyeyemi made music, I think her sound and visuals would match that of Ibeyi's. If you've never read any of Oyeyemi's books, listening to these sisters may give you a good idea of what [...]

    9. I'm still not sure what to say about this one. I started out liking it, but as time went on I liked it less and less. The last 50 - 75 pages, especially, I was just trying to get through, and when they were gone I didn't feel satisfied with the ending.There are two stories here, and themes of identity and transition and transformation abound in both. Maya's attempt to find her place when she doesn't quite know where that is, and Yemaya's displaced experiences in the somewherehouse echo each othe [...]

    10. You know you're in trouble when you pick up a book that tries to cover identity, migration, and magical realism all at once. Marvellously as it is written, The Opposite House is a difficult read. Don't get me wrong; this isn't one of those intricate literary works that ambushes you with metaphors and purposeless rumination only to leave your mind panting for solace. Helen Oyeyemi writes like the inventor of words might have intended they be used, and more often than I could keep track of, I foun [...]

    11. Large parts of this vibrant and intense book are a mystery to me. And yet it was so absorbing I missed my subway stops; I went forward and back and forward again, looking to make it whole in my mind, to pick up the stitches I seemed to have dropped.I think it is most of all about identity, heritage, what it means to come from somewhere, to belong somewhere, to connect. How to balance knowledge and spirit, the imagined and the real, the masculine and the feminine."Their branches brush the ground( [...]

    12. As I was reading this book, I was thinking "I like this." And then as I finished it and shut it up, I thought "No, wait. I don't like this. Do I?" I still don't know, in fact. I think the closest I can come is that I nearly liked it. Nearly!The writing itself is not the problem: Helen Oyeyemi's prose is beautiful and in the main story (well, what I consider the main plotline) she writes poetically about Maja's struggles to come to understand who she really is. Her writing about Maja and her best [...]

    13. The Opposite House tells the story of Maja, a black Cuban living in London with her family and boyfriend, and Yemaya who lives in Somewherehouse, which has two doors that lead to London and Lagos. This book focuses on immigration, culture, searching for truth and discovering oneself.Read more here⬇️lindasyearlybookchallenge.wor

    14. Beautifully written, as always with Oyeyemi, but this book would have been much stronger if it had either devoted equal time to Maja and Aya, or cut Aya's sections entirely. As it is, I didn't quite understand what the purpose of Aya's sections were, and it made me less interested in the book as a whole than I might have been. Maja and her family and friends are really interesting characters — I just wish I hadn't been distracted from them by a story that wasn't as engrossing.

    15. While Oyeyemi writes very beautiful prose, this novel just didn't hold my interest as much as The Icarus Girl.

    16. Wow. Um. Huh.[Currently Googling: "opposite house oyeyemi about????"]Loved it. Didn't really understand it. Have nothing intelligent to say about it.

    17. Hmm. As with most Oyeyemi, I zoomed through and drank in all the wonderful prose. Hard to stop reading once you've started. Like many other readers, I struggled to find the thematic resonance between the two pieces of the narrativebut I think wanting the magical bits to make perfect sense is beyond the identity of this book to be honest. I wish I understood a bit more about what those sections were trying to communicate, sure, but I understood that at bottom they were a meditation on identity, a [...]

    18. Very beautiful prose in this 2nd offering from Helen Oyeyemi. It's evident how much she'd grown from her debut, which now seems juvenile in comparison. The way Oyeyemi strings her words together can be rather arresting: I found myself re-reading lines over and over, sometimes even speaking them aloud to tease out the textures in my mind and mouth. One thing that really floors me in her writing is that she's so completely able to grasp at minuscule details in human experiences and transform it in [...]

    19. The Opposite House, Helen OyeyemiAn unusual, strange tangle of a book. Beguilingly written, hard to understand, yet also hard to put down. The novel tells two tales, one is about a young woman in London, born to Black Cuban parents, who is newly pregnant but struggling to deal with her odd immigrant life. The other story is about a young woman, some kind of mystic or Santeria god, who lives between the two worlds of London and Lagos, and travels between them from a somewherehouse. Both women are [...]

    20. Helen Oyeyemi's writing made me melt. She is an absolute marvel at descriptions, at seeking just the right absurdist image to make us understand reality. I did not at all follow the story of Aya, but was enthralled by the main storyline, though I do think it sometimes lost its way and lacked the real drama that would have given way to a satisfying ending. I actually can't believe the originality of Oyeyemi's writing style. This is her second book, so I can't and won't wait to read her more recen [...]

    21. Broad themes include identity, home, and a sense of place in the dual stories (or are they the same) of an Afro-Cuban London-by-way of Germany jazz singers pregnancy, and a forgotten Orisha. exquisitely written.

    22. I don't know how to feel about this. I don't think I managed to keep up with the story but I enjoyed reading it. Helen Oyeyemi has a way with words that draws me right in.

    23. 4.5 stars, rounded up. Thinking about doing an immediate reread, since Oyeyemi prose/poetry rewards so richly on rereading . . .

    24. The Opposite House by Helen Oyeyemi is a somewhat complex novel that focuses on the antics of Maja Carrerra, a Cuban-born Londoner, who is pregnant by her white Ghanaian boyfriend and "the opposite house" where a Santerian goddess, Aya Saramagua, ventures out to find her roots amid a prevalent `ache/longing' that seems to permeate her world. Maja's world is filled with drama. Her parents, both highly educated academics, are exiles from Castro's Cuba who embrace London as a place for second chanc [...]

    25. "The Opposite House" is Oyeyemi's take on migration and cultural displacement. The novel starts at the somewherehouse, with its two doors; one opening to London and one to Lagos. While we are only allowed a glimpse of Lagos, the story focuses on Maja, a 25 year old Cuban whose family migrated to London when she was a kid. She believes she feels nothing for her country or her roots till she is pregnant when she starts to think increasingly about "her Cuba". She starts to feel increasingly disconn [...]

    26. I have several things to say about different parts of this book, so I will write them out as I think of them. I first heard about it on NPR, and thought it sounded awesome - magical realism, santeria priestess, cool. So. ***possible spoilers, I don't know***There are two different stories going on here, and at one point, one character is in both of them - at least, it is a character with the same name. She doesn't seem to do anything similar in both parts, or. well, by that point I had lost trac [...]

    27. I heard about this book abck around the time it was originally published, so when the trade paperback edition came out, I picked up a copy and put it on my TBR bookcase. Yes, I have enough unread books that they fill *two* bookcases, with a few left in piles on the floor next to them.So, it shouldn't be surprising that it took more than six years to get around to actually reading it, and I will be honest, the push was to stamp off a square on my reading bingo card (author under 30: she was 23 wh [...]

    28. Helen Oyeyemi's second novel is a coming-of-age tale set half in modern London and a half in a boarding house for gods. The story is told in two parallel story-lines, one realist and one fantasy, which never intersect and which have almost nothing to do with each other. The writing style is lyrical and intense, the author's insight into mental illness in young women sharp, but the plot — what little there is of it — is a mess. The main character is Maja, Cuban-born, London raised, afraid of [...]

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