What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours
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A VULTURE (NEW YORK MAGAZINE) BEST BOOK OF 2016 SO FAR
A TIME MAGAZINE BEST BOOK OF 2016 SO FAR
ONE OF THE WASHINGTON POST’S 37 BOOKS WE’VE LOVED SO FAR IN 2016
"Transcendent." —The New York Times Book Review
"Flawless. . . another masterpiece from an author who seems incapable of writing anything that's less than brilliant." —NPR
From the award-winning author of Boy, Snow, Bird and Mr. Fox comes an enchanting collection of intertwined stories.
Playful, ambitious, and exquisitely imagined, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours is cleverly built around the idea of keys, literal and metaphorical. The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret—Oyeyemi’s keys not only unlock elements of her characters’ lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side. In “Books and Roses” one special key opens a library, a garden, and clues to at least two lovers’ fates. In “Is Your Blood as Red as This?” an unlikely key opens the heart of a student at a puppeteering school. “‘Sorry’ Doesn’t Sweeten Her Tea” involves a “house of locks,” where doors can be closed only with a key—with surprising, unobservable developments. And in “If a Book Is Locked There’s Probably a Good Reason for That Don't You Think,” a key keeps a mystical diary locked (for good reason).
Oyeyemi’s tales span multiple times and landscapes as they tease boundaries between coexisting realities. Is a key a gate, a gift, or an invitation? What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours captivates as it explores the many possible answers.
Jill wrote that down in her notebook. — THE NEXT TIME she went into the kitchen there was a boy sitting at the table eating toast. Twelve years old, maybe twelve and a half. He looked like Jacob and he looked like Jill, and he had mad scientist hair that looked to be his own invention. She had to quickly pop back to the fifteenth century to find a word for how beautiful he was. The boy was makeless. From head to toe he couldn’t be equaled, the son she and Jacob hadn’t had time to have, their postwar baby.
His contributions to their joint bank account tripled hers but she wouldn’t have a problem doing without handwoven rugs at home and boutique hotels abroad. Doing without Jacob himself was going to make her a little bit crazy for a long time, so no she wasn’t going to make it easy for him to say his piece and then leave. — WITH A WEEK to go before their summer holiday Jacob all but ambushed Jill at a Tube station. She was adding another month’s worth of public transport to her Oyster card when an arm slipped around her neck and her husband murmured: “Jill, Jill .
NOOR’S EX-WIFE came over for coffee and spoke of seeking psychiatric assistance for Aisha, particularly in the light of Day’s discovery that Aisha had made a purchase from her laptop: a liter of almost pure sulfuric acid—96 percent. The three of us sat silently with our coffee cups, picturing Aisha and Füst alone in some garland-bedecked bower, Füst singing his heart out, maybe even singing his latest hit, “Dress Made of Needles” . . . then as the last notes of the song died out, Aisha uncapped the bottle of acid hidden beneath her dress and let fly.
Sleep,” Lucy said. “Just sleep. ” Those were the only words she had the breath to say. But Safiye had come to make her understand about the key, the key, the key, it was like a mania, and she wouldn’t sleep until Lucy heard her explanations. From the first Safiye had felt a mild distaste for the way her employer Señora Del Olmo talked: “There was such an interesting exchange rate in this woman’s mind . . . whenever she remembered anyone giving her anything, they only gave a very little and kept the lion’s share to themselves.
They were wearing matching floral-print wellies and Sam preempted her derision: “Yeah I know, we deserve each other. ” Jill hesitated before she told them about Presence. What if they said Jacob? Who’s Jacob? or reminded her in voices full of pity that Jacob had been “gone” for months now? She couldn’t be confident in what she said to them when she’d just stepped out of an icebox into a sunny July day and the time outside wasn’t the same as the time in her flat. Well, they were her friends. If at all possible your friends have a right to be notified when you’ve downright lost it.