Monday, August 24, 2020
Book Review: "The Death of Vivek Oji" by Akwaeke Emeze
One day in Nigeria a woman finds the body of her son, Vivek, on the porch of their house, wrapped in colorful fabric. It appears he has been beaten to death.
Vivek’s parents are grief-stricken, but while his father accepts that these things might happen in a country torn by violence, his mother is desperate to understand what happened to her son. She saw him that morning and craves to understand the events that followed.
Vivek was a gentle soul, a free spirit who felt chained by a world that sought to define him. He only felt comfortable letting his guard down with his friends, the daughters of the Nigerwives, a group of foreign-born women married to Nigerian men. And he was closest to Osita, his cousin, who found himself inexplicably drawn to Vivek.
This is a gorgeously written story of identity, sexuality, love, grief, friendship, and the need to live the life you want, even in a country where doing so might be deadly. It’s also a story of a mother desperate to understand her child.
I haven’t read Akwaeke Emeze’s other books yet, Freshwater and Pet, but I definitely will now. This was emotional, beautiful, and so poignant, and their storytelling took my breath away.
I won’t forget this one anytime soon.