Sunday, August 30, 2020

Review: The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeze Emezi


Title: 
The Death of Vivek Oji
AuthorAkwaeke Emezi
Year Published: 2020

Category: Adult fiction (LGBTQ)
Pages: 256
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location (my 2020 Google Reading map)Nigeria

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): 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.

Review: I wasn't sure how this book was going to work for me when I first started it and then I found I couldn't put it down. The prose and the story pull the reader in; I needed to know the story behind Vivek, his friends, and his death.

The story is told mostly by an all-seeing narrator, but there are occasional very short chapters told from Vivek's point of view as well as that of his cousin, Osita. This is really well done as we get little glimpses into how they felt about what was happening to them and around them. It gives the necessary personal touch to this heartbreaking story.

I enjoyed the glimpse this story gives into Nigerian culture while still showing that there are universal themes of love, loss, friendship, family, and secrets that transcend borders.

Challenges for which this counts: 
This counts for the Popsugar challenge because the title has two meanings. The official category is a pun, but to me, this counts.


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