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
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
nick: ok in a bit
i am stressed
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
helen: pie-kah is giving me really bad dreams, antosca
nick: getting published is too frustrating, lets talk
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
helen: tell me about kentucky
nick: i know nothing about it
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?
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
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
nick: im going to ivo and lulu tonight
getting rabbit sausage!
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
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
talk about something else
helen: no, i'm resentful now
nick: go sulk
helen: YEAH I THINK I WILL
helen: as for you
you're out of favour