The Opposite House

The Opposite House

Book - 2007
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Random House, Inc.

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, 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.



Baker & Taylor
A provocative exploration of the thin wall that exists between myth and reality chronicles the alternating stories of two young women--Maja Carmen Carrerra, the daughter of a black Cuban couple living in England who longs for a connection to her African roots, and Yemaya Saramgua, a Yoruba goddess in the Somewherehouse--in search of the meaning of faith and identity. 40,000 first printing.

Blackwell North Amer
In a 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 "my Cuba." Growing up in London, she has struggled to negotiate her history and the sense that speaking Spanish or English has 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's faith in Santeria - the fusion of Catholicism and West 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.
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.

Baker
& Taylor

Maja, daughter of a black Cuban couple, was only five years old when the family emigrated to London. Growing up, she speaks Spanish and English, but longs for a connection to her African roots. Now in her early twenties, Maja is haunted by the desire to make sense of the threads of her history; meanwhile, her mother has found comfort in SanterGia--a faith that melds Catholic saints and the Yoruba gods of West African religion. Maja's narrative is one of two parallel voices in this novel. Yemaya Saramagua speaks from the other side of the reality wall--in the Somewherehouse, which has two doors, one opening to London, the other to Lagos. A Yoruban goddess, Yemaya is troubled by the ease with which her fellow gods have disguised themselves as saints and reappeared under different names and faces. As Maja and Yemaya move closer to understanding themselves, they realize that the journey to discovering where home truly lies is at once painful and exhilarating.--From publisher description.Chronicles the alternating stories of two young women--Maja Carmen Carrerra, the daughter of a black Cuban couple who longs for a connection to her African roots, and Yemaya Saramgua, a Yoruba goddess in the Somewherehouse in search of the meaning of faith and identity.

Publisher: New York : Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, c2007
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9780385513845
0385513844
Branch Call Number: FICTION OYEYEMI
Characteristics: 257 p. ; 22 cm

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Petruccellius_Rex
Sep 20, 2017

Oyeyemi's prose is always masterful, and her settings secure yet surreal. The substrate and anchor in the work is definitely self-perception as we follow Maja and experience her relationship with her parents, brother, boyfriend and best friend and feel her growing disconnect with her adopted city of London and the barely-remembered country of Cuba which her family fled. A surreal feeling is ever-present in her works - like a veil over a everything - which I feel is the closest thing that writing can come to expressing one's internal world and thoughts. Gotta be truthful regarding the somewherehouse and its function as a parallel... without the summary pointing out that parallel between Maja and Aya, I wouldn't have caught it, and definitely wouldn't have caught the Santeria panoply morphing into and mixing with the Catholic saints. Overall it is enjoyable and is full of Oyeyemi's unique style.

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