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The Death of Vivek Oji: A Novel
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Published:
Penguin Publishing Group 2020
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Description
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"Electrifying." — O: The Oprah Magazine
 

Named a Best Book of 2020 by The New York TimesThe Washington Post, NPR, USA TODAY, Vanity Fair, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, Shondaland, Teen Vogue, Vulture, Lit Hub, Bustle, Electric Literature, and BookPage
What 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.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
08/04/2020
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780525541615
ASIN:
B081Y41ZXX
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Akwaeke Emezi. (2020). The Death of Vivek Oji: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Akwaeke Emezi. 2020. The Death of Vivek Oji: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Akwaeke Emezi, The Death of Vivek Oji: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group, 2020.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Akwaeke Emezi. The Death of Vivek Oji: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group, 2020. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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The Death of Vivek Oji
fullDescription
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"Electrifying." — O: The Oprah Magazine
 

Named a Best Book of 2020 by The New York TimesThe Washington Post, NPR, USA TODAY, Vanity Fair, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, Shondaland, Teen Vogue, Vulture, Lit Hub, Bustle, Electric Literature, and BookPage
What 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.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        March 16, 2020
        Emezi returns to adult fiction (after YA novel Pet) with a brisk tale that whirs around the mysterious death of a young Nigerian man, Vivek Oji. As a child in the 1990s, Vivek secretly identifies as a girl, the psychological strain of which causes Vivek to slip into blackouts. Only his close male cousin, Osita, recognizes the seriousness of these fugue states. (Vivek’s parents dismiss them as “quiet spells.”) As a teenager, Vivek grows his hair long in defiance of gender expectations, and Emezi affectingly explores the harm of threats to Vivek’s gender expression from other boys and men, who sling insults and glass bottles at him on the street. As Vivek finds solace in his female friends and Osita, he discovers he is not the only one with secrets. After his death, the heartbreaking details of which are gradually revealed, the other characters learn more about his secret life
        . While Emezi leans on clichés (“hit me in the chest like a lorry”) and two-dimensional supporting characters, they offer sharp observations about the cost of transphobia and homophobia, and about the limits of honesty in their characters’ lives. Despite a few bumps, this is a worthy effort. Agent: Jacqueline Ko, Wylie Agency. (Aug.)Correction: An earlier version of this review did not use the author's preferred gender pronouns.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        June 1, 2020
        The author of the young adult novel Pet, a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award, offers another exploration of gender identity, this time for adults. This book's title leaves no doubt about the fate of its central character. Nor does the first chapter, which is one sentence long: "They burned down the market on the day Vivek Oji died." Then the story moves into the past to introduce Vivek's father, Chika, as he is about to meet Kavita, the woman who will become his wife and Vivek's mother. The next chapter is told from the perspective of Vivek's cousin, Osita. As the narrative moves around in time and from viewpoint to viewpoint, Emezi offers a richly textured depiction of a middle-class community in Nigeria--one that includes several immigrants, among them Vivek's Indian mother. In these early chapters, there is no sense of the tragedy that's coming. The first hint of trouble ahead is when Vivek starts slipping into fugue states. Eventually, Vivek will explain that these were moments when the burden of living an inauthentic life became too much to bear. When Vivek lets his hair grow long and acknowledges his true sexuality, he experiences some relief from this stress, but new problems arise--including an aunt who thinks he's possessed by demons and boys who throw bottles at him. He is only just beginning to express his true self openly when he dies. Only a handful of chapters--most of them very brief--are told from Vivek's point of view. There's something heartbreaking about the fact that his story can only be told by others, especially since some of them never saw him as he wanted to be seen. And Osita--who loved Vivek and knew him better than anyone--cannot say everything he knows. Even so, the novel ends on a note of hope. Vividly written and deeply affecting.

        COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from June 1, 2020
        Emezi (Freshwater, 2018) is adept at never letting her prose sink into complacency. At the outset of her second novel for adults, it is no secret that Vivek Oji is dead. Vivek himself drops breadcrumbs that the reader might interpret as the reasons for his demise: I'm not what anyone thinks I am. I never was. I didn't have the mouth to put it into words, to say what was wrong, to change the things I felt I needed to change. The tale's carefully woven construct falls apart at every turn in this deeply unsettling yet ultimately redeeming story about one young man's struggles in Nigeria in a society which too often straitjackets one's identity. Every sentence is an achingly raw jewel: She'd been sanded down into dullness by grief and prayers that went unanswered. He had a temper like gunpowder packed into a pipe. Although the sneak peek into Vivek's mental illness early on is sacrificed at the altar of the larger narrative, the dynamite story that emerges unflinchingly upends established definitions of family and community. This is another knockout performance from a writer who, much like her complex protagonist, refuses to color within the lines.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from April 1, 2020

        As this novel opens, Kavita discovers the broken body of her only child, Vivek, on her doorstep. How her misunderstood son, whose birth on the day of his grandmother's death was tainted by superstition, came to his untimely end is the focus of this haunting novel from Nigerian-born author Emezi. Through vivid flashbacks, friends and family paint a picture of a sensitive child prone to bouts of depression and angry outbursts. Vivek's own musings reflect the worry that his true nature may always be invisible to the world. His parents dismiss warnings about Vivek's growing isolation even as his loving friends create a safe space for him to indulge his penchant for bangles, lipstick, and dresses. But Vivek's complicated relationship with his male cousin Osita rests at the heart of this searing examination of gender dissonance, sexual attraction, familial love, and loyalty. Verdict The plaudits for Emezi's first novel, Freshwater (NYPL Young Lions, Lambda Literary, and Center for Fiction's First Novel honors), did not overstate the case. Following Pet, a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, this achingly beautiful probe into the challenges of living fully as a nonbinary human being, is an illuminating read. [See Prepub Alert, 2/4/20.]--Sally Bissell, formerly with Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Fort Myers, FL

        Copyright 2020 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        March 1, 2020

        Having earned National Book Award 5 Under 35 honors, multiple best-book nods, and countless nominations for her one-of-a-kind Freshwater, Emezi returns with a Nigerian-set story opening with a mother finding her son's brightly wrapped body on her doorstep. Vivek had been a sweet child, raised by a distant father and ever-worried mother, but he suffered from blackouts and a sense of isolation only partly ameliorated by his friendship with several effusive daughters of American women married to Nigerian men and especially by his bond with his sparkling if ultimately secretive cousin Osita. But then violence explodes.

        Copyright 2020 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"Electrifying." — O: The Oprah Magazine
 

Named a Best Book of 2020 by The New York TimesThe Washington Post, NPR, USA TODAY, Vanity Fair, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, Shondaland, Teen Vogue, Vulture, Lit Hub, Bustle, Electric Literature, and BookPage
What 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...
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