08/02/2007 01:14 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A Conversation with Literary Wunderkind Helen Oyeyemi

At 22, Helen Oyeyemi is the internationally acclaimed author of The Icarus Girl and The Opposite House. She is also at work on a third novel, Pie-Kah. Here is an in-depth interview with Oyeyemi about the moral, cultural, and sociopolitical underpinnings of her fiction.

Interview conducted via gmail chat.

[Hel announces that she wants to change her name to "sukey
tawdry" from "jj french," which is what she currently insists on being

helen: how can you not like sukey tawdry?

nick: its stupid
jj french is better

helen: hisssssssss
it's not stupid

nick: yeah it is
jj french is better
sukey tawdry sounds like a fake vietnamese hooker name

helen: you should listen harder to mack the knife
cause she's one of the girls that disappeared
her and ol' lucy brown

nick: uh huh
never heard that song

helen: you have
you just don't know it's called mack the knife
youtube it

nick: ok in a bit
i am stressed

helen: same
why stressed?

nick: anxious

helen: =(
what of the new novel?

nick: writing bits of it

helen: i just realised i haven't read midnight picnic at all
please to send it to me week after next
this is...strangelets?

nick: yes

helen: pie-kah is giving me really bad dreams, antosca

nick: getting published is too frustrating, lets talk
about hats
elaine has my fedora
do you wear hats

helen: i have a beret
i'm watching sally jessy raphael
kids who are scared of their parents

nick: cool

helen: tell me about kentucky

nick: i know nothing about it

helen: o

nick: i feel like i have electric ants crawling all
over me today

helen: i start writing the end tomorrow
feel so sick

nick: end of pie kah?
why sick

helen: sick because things are going to get nasty

nick: in the book?

helen: also i hate tying things up
and i don't know if i can pull it off

nick: happy w/ the book?

helen: i don't know...i just don't know. argh. sickness

nick: ok

helen: lipgloss!!

nick: exciting

helen: ola kola

nick: i have a fedora

helen: where'd you get it?

nick: in new haven
i wore it with a gas mask during a prank

helen: what was the prank?

nick: walking naked into a lecture hall

helen: ah

nick: im going to ivo and lulu tonight
getting rabbit sausage!

helen: hahahahaha
i'm v pleased for you

nick: you didnt show proper appreciation for the
place when we went
you ate vegetarian something

helen: tuh, the whole thing was hilarious

nick: hel
bourne ultimatum was really good!

helen: jj french!
it's jj french!
what's up with you, you never want to see me again?

nick: whats up with YOU

helen: nothing i'm FINE

nick: you have a prejudice against people who like good movies

helen: we're not discussing this
can't you see it divides us?

nick: watch bourne supremacy

helen: don't talk about that anymore
i mean it

nick: why are you being like this??

helen: i don't know how to answer that question
it has no meaning to me
all i'm saying is, our friendship must preclude films and rabbit sausage

nick: fine
talk about something else

helen: no, i'm resentful now

nick: go sulk


nick: cool

helen: as for you
you're out of favour