Helen Oyeyemi: Mr Fox

fox

The latest addition to my website is Helen Oyeyemi‘s Mr Fox. This is a modern updating on the Bluebeard legend. St John Fox is a 1930s US writer whose novels features unpleasant things done to women. Mary Foxe, who is entirely a figment of his imagination, berates him for his treatment of the women. Oyeyemi, using Yoruba myths and inventive storytelling, including fairy tales, as Fox and Foxe slug it out, gives us a fascinating but contrived account of their relationship. When Fox’s real-life wife, Daphne, gets involved and jealous of Mary, things get more heated. While the book is very inventive, witty and has a very valid message, it did not quite work for me. Oyeyemi was one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists.

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2 Comments

  1. Becca

    Hi, I’m interested, could you elaborate which Yoruba myths in particular Oyeyemi incorporates?

    • tmn

      One example is when the girl from Osogbo meets her ancestral dead (What people didn’t know about this girl was that the ancestral dead kept her company—they came to find her at bathtime and sat four at a time in the bathwater with her, cooing wistfully and using their wasted, insubstantial hands to wash her hair. The girl urged them to take care of their own children, but they refused. Her head lolled at these times, and she was overcome with gratitude. At bedtime the dead took her with them, and in her dreams, she visited their graves.)

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