Publication Date: August 4, 2020
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Genre: Literary Fiction
Content Warning: homophobia, incest, domestic abuse, rape
The Death of Vivek Oji predictably tells the story of the life and death of Vivek Oji but mostly through the perspectives of those around them. The book takes place in Nigeria and gives a vivid glimpse into the world of Nigerwives, who are foreign born women who marry Nigerian men. Emezi has a stunning grasp of language and effortlessly immerses the reader into this world.
I didn’t know what this book was about beyond the obvious nature of the title and it being written by Emezi, who I already knew I loved. But wow this book packs a punch. I read all 248 pages in a matter of hours because I was so gripped by this intense story. As you can see from the content warnings above this book deals with some tough and distasteful topics. When I realized what the romance was in this story I was shocked but I commend Emezi for taking the story to uncomfortable places.
Some of my favorite reads are books by authors who play with structure and narrative styles and Emezi cleverly delivers on both. I was hypnotized by how Emezi weaved this story together and how each thing we read built the life and death of Vivek. I’m avoiding spoilers but I also think the title of this book is compelling and upon reading the story I think it can be taken in more than one way.
If you are looking for a hard hitting book that will push you outside your comfort zones than I highly recommend this book. I was there for the story but I also feel like I learned about a different culture and this book enriched my understanding of a different way of life.