Helen Oyeyemi had been on my author radar for a while, so when her short story collection what is not yours is not yours came my way as a present, I was excited. People couldn’t resist commenting on the title whenever I was reading out in public. Some reviewers claim that it is a book of linked short stories because there are a few characters who make repeat appearances and there are themes of keys and locks and doors that do run thru all the stories. I, personally, would stop short of calling them linked.
There is a touch (or more) of magical realism in most of her tales and I was constantly feeling a bit off-balance as I was reading. The story a brief history of the homely wench society was the most realistic, but I was still off-balance because I was just waiting for something weird to happen.
The stories cover a refreshingly wide range of…everything, really: locations, characters, emotions. This is one of those books that I would love to discuss with people. Why does it seem that the best books for book club are the ones that I could never convince the members of my book club to read? Oyeyemi’s writing is terrific. Still, I would find it hard to recommend this book universally, tho for the adventurous reader and a short story lover it is definitely worth putting on your list. I would really like to tackle one of her novels, I think I will enjoy diving into her strange and wonderful world in a longer and more cohesive format.